During a speech in Alabama Friday night, President Donald Trump took a few minutes to slam NFL players like Colin Kaepernick, who indulge protests during the playing of the national anthem. Trump said that he hopes such players are removed from the field and said he’d “love” to see NFL owners fire them.
Trump made his comments at a rally for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Luther Strange in Huntsville, Alabama.
What seemed to set the president off against the NFL was when he noted that he, Luther Strange, and his followers respect the U.S. flag. As the crowd cheered, Trump turned his attention to NFL protesters and said that he’d love to see such protesters thrown out of the game for disrespecting the flag.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say: ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired!’ They don’t know it,” Trump said as the crowd cheered. “They’re friends of mine, many of them. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person in the country.”
Chants of “USA! USA!” filled the hall as Trump continued on:
Trump wishes NFL owners would tell anthem protesters "get that son of a bitch off the field right now" pic.twitter.com/gq4EH3lNoY
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) September 23, 2017
Trump next reminded the crowd that the NFL is losing fans by the millions and said that the league’s efforts to lighten the physical contact on the field is “ruining” the game:
When the NFL ratings are down massively, massively. The NFL ratings are down massively. The NFL ratings are down massively. Now the number one reason happens to be they like watching what’s happening…with yours truly. They like what’s happening. Because you know today if you hit too hard –15 yards! Throw him out of the game! They had that last week. I watched for a couple of minutes. Two guys, just really beautiful tackle. Boom, 15 yards! The referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she’s so proud of him. They’re ruining the game. That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It’s ruining the game.
The president then suggested a way for fans to put an end to the protests:
But did you know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on the television, and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem. The only thing you could do better is, if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up, leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway.
Trump spoke in Huntsville to a mostly filled room that thinned out early, according to reports.
The president is supporting former Alabama Attorney General and interim U.S. Senator Luther Strange who faces a September 26 runoff election with fellow Republican Judge Roy Moore. Strange is hoping to win election in his own right to the Senate seat he was appointed to when Senator Jeff Sessions vacated the seat to become Trump’s U.S. Attorney General.
The winner of the runoff election will face Democrat and Former U.S. attorney Doug Jones on December 12.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.