President Donald Trump said the NFL’s business would “go to hell” unless players stopped protesting during the National Anthem.
Reporters asked why Trump had defended the rights of white supremacists to protest the removal of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, but the president instead continued his attacks on NFL players.
“I think the NFL is in a box, a really bad box,” Trump said. “You look what’s happening with their ratings. Frankly, the only thing doing well in the NFL is the pregame, because everybody wants to see what’s going on. The NFL is in a very bad box. You cannot have people disrespecting our National Anthem, our flags, our country and that’s what they’re doing.”
“And in my opinion, the NFL has to change, or you know what’s going to happen?” the president added. “Their business is going to go to hell.”
Trump insisted he backed the First Amendment, but then he suggested limits to those rights for professional athletes — and claimed he had majority support for those limits.
“We have to respect our National Anthem and our country,” he said. “They’re not respecting our country, and most importantly, the fans agree with me. Largely, the fans agree, but we have to show total respect for our National Anthem, for our flag, for our country. We have to do it. There are plenty of places and, personally, when they’re protesting during a football game, I think they can find better places but they cannot do it during the National Anthem. I am going to see — I’m looking at that very closely. I’m not happy with it, I am not happy with it.”