49ers

Trump doubles down against anthem protesters: Owners 'afraid of their players'

Trump doubles down against anthem protesters: Owners 'afraid of their players'

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says National Football League team owners are “afraid of their players.” And he’s still calling for action against those who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.

Trump says he began criticizing the players because he has “so many friends that are owners.” He adds: “I think they are afraid of their players, if you want to know the truth, and I think it’s disgraceful.”

The president spoke in an interview that aired Thursday on “Fox and Friends.” He says “most people agree” with him.

NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart called the president’s statements “inaccurate.”

“I believe there was a statement our owners are afraid of our players and owners requested intervention by political leaders to kick this off,” Lockhart said. “Those statements are not accurate.”

Trump has spent days attacking players who kneel during the anthem. He insists the NFL should require players to stand. Responding to Trump, hundreds more players have been sitting, kneeling, locking arms or remaining in locker rooms.

“The owners are clearly united in a sense that the attacks on the game, on the NFL, on the players were unfair and unfounded, and that there was unity among the group,” Lockhart said, noting that about two-thirds of the 32 team owners were at league headquarters this week for committee meetings.

“I think there was also a sentiment ... that the issues are being obscured and distorted by people with political agendas. I think they made it clear they support our players, but also support our country, the national anthem, the flag — all of the things some have suggested we don’t.”

Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'

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USATSI

Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'

NEW YORK — The NFL is not changing its national anthem policy to require players to stand during the national anthem.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners said Wednesday at the league’s fall meetings that altering the language from “should stand” to “must stand” was not discussed.

New York Giants owner John Mara noted that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones “spoke at length” to the other owners about the anthem issue. Jones has said any Dallas player who doesn’t stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” would not be playing.

Goodell reiterated that the league and its 32 clubs “believe everyone should stand for the national anthem. It’s an important part of our policy and the game. It’s important to honor our flag and our country and I think our fans expect that.”

Asked about any owners who threatened discipline for players who didn’t stand, Goodell said the owners didn’t discuss it.

“There was a fair amount of conversation and I think our clubs see it the same way. I can’t deal with hypotheticals,” Goodell said.

Reminded that President Donald Trump tweeted again Wednesday about the demonstrations during the anthem, Goodell said there was nothing unpatriotic about his league.

“Everyone feels strongly about our country and have pride,” he said, adding the NFL is “not afraid of tough conversations.

“What we are trying to stay out of is politics.”

Goodell noted that only six or seven players are still kneeling or are involved in protests.

“We hope we will continue to work to put that at zero,” he said.

On Tuesday, in an unprecedented move for a league meeting, a group of 11 owners and more than a dozen players met for more than two hours at NFL headquarters. Among the topics discussed was enhancing the players’ platforms for speaking out on social issues.

“I understand the way they feel about these issues,” Goodell said Wednesday. “We feel the same about patriotism and the flag and I believe our players feel that way. We have a great deal of support for the efforts of our players.”

Trump blasts NFL for not demanding players stand during national anthem

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AP

Trump blasts NFL for not demanding players stand during national anthem

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is again criticizing the NFL over players kneeling during the national anthem.

Trump said on Twitter Wednesday that the “NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem.”

He adds: “Total disrespect for our great country!”

Trump appeared to be responding to the NFL annual fall meeting on Tuesday. The league invited players and representatives from their union to discuss social issues.

The topic of the national anthem was not discussed at length. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said owners did not ask players to commit to standing during the anthem.

Trump has suggested the owners should “fire” any players who knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”