Trump Says NFL Should've Immediately Suspended Colin Kaepernick For Kneeling
On Wednesday evening, during an interview on Fox's Hannity, Trump sharply criticized Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers NFL player who began the trend of kneeling during the National Anthem. Kaepernick has explained that the move is in protest of how America "oppresses black people and people of color." This wasn't the first time the president took issue with Kaepernick's protest, framing it as disrespectful to the nation and to the Americans who have served.
After Hannity brought up the subject, Trump suggested the NFL shouldn't have tolerated the kneeling from the very beginning.
The NFL should have suspended him for one game and he would have never done it again. 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. ... I will tell you, you cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem, you cannot do that.
Kaepernick, however, has defended his actions. And since then, other NFL players have also chosen to kneel. In August 2016, he told NFL media that the issue goes way beyond football:
I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.
This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. ... If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.
Hannity surely knew that any question having to do with the NFL or Kaepernick would get a rise out of Trump — and his fans. The president has been on a roll when it comes to attacking the football league on Twitter. In fact, the administration drew even further attention to its ongoing feud with players who kneel instead of stand for the National Anthem when he told Vice-President Mike Pence to walk out of the 49ers-Colts game in Indiana if any players "took a knee," as people call it. Trump's tweets following the scene suggest Pence's walk-out, as well as his protest of a protest, was pre-planned.
But Trump's issue with NFL players who kneel isn't anything new. During a speech in Alabama on Sept. 23, Trump called any player who kneels a "son of a b---h."
Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---h off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired. You know, some owner is going to do that. He's going to say, "That guy that disrespects our flag, he's fired." And that owner, they don't know it [but] they'll be the most popular person in this country.
And most recently, Trump attacked the NFL on Twitter for supposedly getting tax breaks. Though the NFL League Office used to be tax-exempt, it gave up that identity in 2015.
Trump's issue with the NFL has come under fire in the last few weeks as futile. As Puerto Rico struggles to bring power back to the island and collect enough supplies, clean water, and food, some have suggested Trump's outrage could be put to better use. However, given Trump's interview with Hannity, it doesn't look like he's going to lay off the NFL anytime soon.