'If they don't stand for the national anthem, I hope they don't open': Donald Trump issues fresh NFL anti-kneeling barb
Speaking to a Fox Sports morning radio show on Tuesday, the US president spoke on a range of topics, including Tom Brady's recent move from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but soon hit one of his more favored sports talking points: the wave of athletes across multiple disciplines kneeling before games, or during the national anthem, to protest police brutality and promote equality.
Trump's stance has long been a consistent one, and dates back to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick popularizing the 'Black Lives Matter' movement before a game in 2016 - and this time around he says that he would rather not see football at all than have to sit through players exercising their constitutional right to peaceful protest.Also on rt.com ‘I won’t be watching much anymore!’ Trump threatens to boycott NFL & US soccer over plans to kneel during anthem
"If they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open," Trump said, adding that the owners of the league's various teams are well aware of his stance.
"They know my feelings very well, they’ve been expressed."
Trump, meanwhile, lauded the NHL's pregame demonstrations in which players opt not to kneel and with no 'Black Lives Matter' imagery being displayed on uniforms or otherwise - while being critical of both the MLB and the "very nasty" NBA's whose pregame demonstrations included both.
He also criticized the television ratings that the basketball league was getting, saying without evidence that people were "very angry" at the situation.
The NFL has yet to outline any specific plans for pre-game demonstrations ahead of the league's expected start in September, but there are highly likely to take place given that Kaepernick first popularized the expression on the side of an NFL field.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who was once a vocal opponent of the kneeling protests, admitted in a statement following the death of George Floyd that the league took an incorrect stance under his leadership.
"We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," Goodell said in a statement in June. "We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter."Also on rt.com NFL boss says 'we were wrong' over stance on player protests – but Trump yells 'NO KNEELING'
However, Trump clearly isn't on the same page.
"You have to stand for your flag, and you have to respect your flag and your country," Trump said. "You’re making millions of dollars a year playing a sport you’d be playing anyway, they’d be playing it on the weekends.
"And they have to respect their country. If they don’t, frankly, if the NFL didn’t open I’d be very happy."