Trump Slams NFL Anthem Protesters, Rescinds Invite to Golden State Warriors

Demands black players who kneel during National Anthem be fired or suspended.

Report: Russian Trolls Provoked Kaepernick/Anthem Debate As Late as 2018
Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid kneel in protest on the sideline. (Michael Zagaris/49ers/Getty)

President Trump is mounting an all-out blitz against professional athletes who either kneel in protest during the National Anthem or criticize his administration.

On Sunday morning, the president kept up a third straight day of attacks on the protests in the NFL that were started last season by then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who said he was making a stand against police brutality by kneeling. That most of the protesting athletes are black has drawn attention to the racial divide on the issue.

“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!” Trump tweeted Sunday morning.

“NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.,” he later added.

The attacks brought condemnation from across the NFL – including Commissioner Roger Goodell and perhaps most notably, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a close friend of the president.

“I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday,” Kraft said in a statement issued by the Patriots. “I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger. There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics.”

Trump also became a two-sport athlete basher, taking on his critics in the National Basketball Association.

Kevin Durant #35 and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The tweets come after Trump also rescinded an invitation to the Golden State Warriors to celebrate their latest title at the White House, a tradition for championship teams.

But the team’s biggest star, Stephen Curry, had already said the Warriors would not attend in the first place in protest of the administration’s policies.


Trump’s game-plan against “ungrateful” athletes may also have spurred on a new wave of protests. Backup catcher Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland A’s became the first Major League Baseball player to kneel during the Star-Spangled Banner.

Still, it’s clear by the volume of retweets and supportive messages on social media from his base that Trump has tapped into anger among conservatives that the protest gesture is disrespectful to the U.S. military.

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