NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Players Association, and various football stars fired back at Donald Trump today after the president ripped players who don’t stand up for the national anthem. Goodell called Trump’s comments “divisive.”
At a campaign rally last night in Alabama, Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. ‘Out, you’re fired!’ Total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything that we stand for.” Trump also mentioned NFL television ratings being down and the increase in penalties related to an effort at greater player protection.
“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodell wrote. “There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”
The commissioner’s comments were echoed by those of NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, who responded via Twitter on Saturday morning.
“We will never back down,” Smith said in his statement. “We no longer can afford to stick to sports.”
Current and former players, and others, also responded to Trump via Twitter.
Buffalo running back Lesean McCoy:
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman:
Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis:
Former running back Reggie Bush:
Washington Redskins linebacker Zach Brown:
Tampa Bay Buccanneers safety T.J. Ward: