NFL Players Respond to Trump’s Bullying of Athletes

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.”

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!!”

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:

Eagles defensive end Chris Long weighed in on Trump supporters’ reactions to Kaepernick and his own efforts to help the community.