WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump has a new message for the NFL: Change or business is "going to go to hell."
Trump said Wednesday that the NFL is in a "really bad box" over the issue of players kneeling in protest during the national anthem. He said ratings are falling, and the only thing doing well is the NFL pregame show.
Beginning with a rally last Friday in Alabama, Trump has been criticizing players who kneel during the "The Star-Spangled Banner" to protest racial injustice. He has said the NFL should require that players stand during the anthem.
MORE ON THE ANTHEM
Trump said Wednesday there are other places during a game where players can protest "but they cannot do it during the national anthem."
"You cannot have people disrespecting our national anthem, our flag, our country," Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for a trip to Indiana. "In my opinion, the NFL has to change. Or you know what's going to happen. Their business is going to go to hell."
Earlier on Twitter, Trump said he had spoken Tuesday with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
"Jerry is a winner who knows how to get things done. Players will stand for Country!" Trump tweeted.
On Monday night, Jones — a Trump supporter — and his players knelt arm-in-arm before the anthem, then rose for the playing of the anthem before the team's victory in Arizona over Cardinals.
Trump has spent several days lashing out at players who kneel, a practice that started with a handful of players to protest racial issues, including police brutality.
Responding to Trump, hundreds of players have been sitting, kneeling, locking arms or remaining in locker rooms.
Copyright, 2017, The Associated Press
1:22 - Josh Gordon is now officially a Patriot. Tom E. Curran joins Early Edition with Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to give his theory about why Bill Belichick was reluctant to discuss the acquisition of the former Browns wide receiver.
6:10 - Jimmy Butler has reportedly requested a trade and prefers the Knicks, Nets, and Clippers as destinations. Chris Gasper and Kyle Draper talk about if this could have any impact on the Celtics and Kyrie Irving’s future in Boston.
10:13 - David Price can’t get the job done and the division title celebration will have to wait another night. Giles, Draper, Holley, and Trotta break down David Price’s performance and discuss what the Red Sox playoff rotation should be.
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Wednesday night on Quick Slants, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated said the Browns were frustrated that Gordon was not in football shape.
First, Breer mentions Gordon reportedly tweaking his hamstring during a promo shoot before the trade.
"The hamstring issue is more a symptom of him not being reliable," Breer said. "It wasn't like he was in any sort of disrepair when they were dealing him. It was the way he got hurt, which was outside of team activities and the fact that he showed up late the next day."
Then, Breer went on to talk about how the Browns used Gordon a lot in the season opener to prove to the receiver that he wasn't in football shape.
"I think this goes beyond just the substance abuse problem. The Browns had gotten frustrated with him, and it wasn't just the hamstring and what happened last weekend. It was also the fact that he had trouble getting himself into football shape. And I think a lot of people look at him... and by human standards, he's in great shape -- not the same thing as being in football shape. And in that first game, you might notice that they put him out there for I think 69 snaps, right? Hue Jackson said before the game, 'We didn't intend to start him,' but they did intend to play him a lot and then they said they only started him because of personnel groupings.
"My understanding is part of the reason they put him out there for that long was to show him, 'Hey, look - you may think you're in great shape, but being in football shape is something different.' And so if you watch the game, he wore down a little bit at the end and that's something they had experienced in practice, and so that's something to watch for."
"And the big question of course, and this is central to what the Patriots believe in... does he really love football that much? And that's at the center of the Patriots program when it comes to who they're going to acquire."
All signs point to Gordon getting to prove himself sooner rather than later with the Patriots.