After Donald Trump went on a tangent during a speech in Alabama on Friday night, attacking NFL players exercising their right to protest police brutality against black people by kneeling during the national anthem, players across the league lined up to condemn his remarks.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!’,” Trump said during his rant, alluding to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began the protest and has yet to be re-signed by a team for dubious reasons.
His comments were met with chants from the crowd of, “U-S-A. U-S-A.”
The head of the NFL players union responded shortly after, with NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith saying, “We will never back down. We can no longer afford to stick to sports.”
We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports. pic.twitter.com/Ec3Bc4qt9h
— DeMaurice Smith (@DeSmithNFLPA) September 23, 2017
The player’s association issued a more complete statement rejecting the remarks as well, noting that many NFL owners donated to Trump’s campaign and highlighting players who have been choosing to kneel during the anthem.
The players’ responses have been notably stronger in their condemnation than that of the NFL commissioner Roger Gooddell, who did manage to call Trump’s speech “divisive.”
Seattle Seahawks cornerback responded on Twitter, saying that, “The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!”
The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) September 23, 2017
Here are a few other responses to Trump from NFL players around the league, some focusing on their condemnation of the president, others voicing their solidarity with Kaepernick:
It's really sad man … our president is a asshole
— Lesean McCoy (@CutonDime25) September 23, 2017
When will people learn that fear won’t make someone sit down. It quite possibly will make more stand up for what they believe in.
— Chris Conley (@_flight17_) September 23, 2017
Ppl said it was disrespectful not going to the White House..I’m sure they are quiet about us being called “sons of bitches” 🤦🏿♂️(D-Mac)
— Devin&Jason McCourty (@McCourtyTwins) September 23, 2017
#Kaepernick we riding with you bro ✊🏾
— Reggie Bush (@ReggieBush) September 23, 2017
Continue to use your voices and your platforms for racial equality and to stop injustices in our communities. This is bigger than us!!! ✊🏿
— Michael Thomas (@Michael31Thomas) September 23, 2017
I'm a full supporter of the Flag & This country! Trust Me! But this can't be real! https://t.co/GAPkZPB8hz
— Rishard Matthews (@_RMatthews) September 23, 2017
Trump stay in ur place… football have nothing to do wit u smh
— Zach Brown (@ZachBrown_55) September 23, 2017
— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) September 23, 2017
Only validates @Kaepernick7 bringing social injustice to light, he kneeled hoping it'd bring attention to what he believed in… Has it not?
— cameron jordan (@camjordan94) September 23, 2017
Does anyone tell trump to stick to politics, like they tell us to stick to sports? Smh.
— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) September 23, 2017
— Brandon Marshall (@BMarshh54) September 23, 2017
cloth has more value than people. apparently. https://t.co/PZjeRA9861
— feeno (@ArianFoster) September 23, 2017
Eagles defensive end Chris Long weighed in on Trump supporters’ reactions to Kaepernick and his own efforts to help the community.
Player- Let's promote equality, help our communities.
Mad Guy- All talk.
Player- Actually I do/have done X
Mad Guy- U just want attention!
— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) September 22, 2017