Donald Trump targeted NFL players and the protests sparked by Colin Kaepernick on Friday night during a rally in Alabama in support of Alabama senator Luther Strange. During the divisive rally, Trump referred to Kaepernick and any other player who “disrespects our flag” as a “son of a bitch” and said that they should be fired. The response online was swift and angry, with several pointing out that the president shared a tougher stance on citizens silently protesting than he did for the Nazis that descended on Charlottesville.
As Shaun King pointed out after the rally closed, the NFLPA and NFL both responded to the comments from the president and were joined by several current and former NFL players condemning Trump.
Roger Goodell condemned the president’s comments by saying the NFL and its players are at their best when they “create a sense of unity” and called the president’s comments “divisive” and demonstrating a “lack of respect for the NFL, our great game, and all of our players”:
Prior to the NFL’s official statement, the NFL Players Association also condemned the president’s comments by standing by the players for their rights and safety:
“Whether or not [NFL commissioner] Roger [Goodell] and the owners will speak for themselves about their views on player rights and their commitment to player safety remains to be seen…
“This union, however, will never back down when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks,”