Patriots Owner Robert Kraft referred to President Trump as “divisive,” in a closed-door meeting about NFL anthem protests last year.
The NFL decided to hold the meeting with their players in October, shortly after President Trump criticized protesting players during a political rally in Alabama.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,’” Trump said.
That weekend, hundreds of players, coaches, and even owners, protested the president during the playing of the national anthem. With the anthem protests becoming more visible and Trump becoming more vocal, the league met to discuss the issue.
“This kneeling,” Kraft said. “The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America. It’s divisive and it’s horrible.”
Kraft’s statement, and others, come via an audio recording of the meeting obtained by the New York Times.
The report comes as somewhat of a surprise, given that Kraft has been quite friendly with Trump. Even going so far as to give the president a Super Bowl ring after New England’s victory over Atlanta in Super Bowl 45.
After the meeting concluded, Kraft said that the league should issue a statement reflecting a united front.
“It would be good if you could work in the word ‘unified’ or ‘unity’ in some fashion,” Kraft said.
Here is the statement the league released:
Today owners and players had a productive meeting focused on how we can work together to promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities. NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change. We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together.
As we said last week, everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military. In the best American tradition, we are coming together to find common ground and commit to the hard work required for positive change.
Neither Trump nor Kraft has responded to the release of Kraft’s comments from the meeting.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn