President Donald Trump said the NFL should have suspended former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick when he began his campaign to sit during the national anthem.
Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday that the NFL probably would not have the problems it has now if they had been more proactive at the beginning.
“The NFL should have suspended him for one game and he would have never done it again,” Trump told Hannity in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 12. “They could have then suspended him for two games and they could have suspended him again if he did it a third time, for the season, and you would never have had a problem.”
Kaepernick first started sitting out the bench during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 2016, which caused backlash from NFL fans and staff alike. He then softened his statement to kneeling during the anthem. He said at the time it was to protest “police brutality” and “racial injustice.” Kaepernick has since become a free agent and has been unable to land a job with another NFL team.
Some Americans said it was not the venue, nor the time to protest these issues, with many viewers saying they planned to boycott the league as more players followed suit. After the president weighed in on the issue in September, around 200 NFL players knelt during the anthem in response.
Recently the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Florida canceled their NFL subscriptions over the protests.
“I will tell you,” Trump told Hannity, “you cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem, you cannot do that.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) October 11, 2017
On Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a letter to team owners that he believed players should stand for the national anthem.
Goodell also said that the league would consider a rule change so players would be required to stand.
The letters come as the league continues to see dramatic drops in both stadium and TV audience ratings as Americans become increasingly turned off by the political activism being injected into their sports entertainment.
Last Sunday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave an ultimatum: any player who disrespects the flag by kneeling will not play.
The owner’s comments are the strongest so far surrounding the anthem controversy, Fox News reported.
“I know this, we cannot … in the NFL in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag,” he said after the Cowboys’ 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers.”
Just a day after Goodell’s letter, Trump tweeted that it was “about time.”
“It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY,” he tweeted on Oct. 11.