Trump: ‘Fire or Suspend’ Players Who Kneel for National Anthem

President Donald Trump / Getty Images

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President Donald Trump continued to lay into NFL players who protest the national anthem on Sunday, tweeting they should be punished and fans could enact change if they chose not to attend games.

"If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!" he wrote.

He followed up with, "NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S."

Trump set off a firestorm on Friday when he said at a rally in Alabama that NFL players who disrespect the American flag should be fired from the team, saying owners ought to say, "Get that son of a bitch off the field."

NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem last year to draw attention to racial injustice, and some players across the league have followed suit. The issue has raised questions about free speech rights, patriotism, police brutality and other hot-button topics.

Kaepernick, who reached the Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers in the 2012 season but has struggled in recent seasons, is currently a free agent.

Trump also tweeted about the issue on Saturday.

NFL owners and executives largely condemned his remarks at the Alabama rally as divisive. They included New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a friend of Trump's who said he was "deeply disappointed" by his remarks, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Trump responded to Goodell's criticism by saying he should "tell them to stand!"

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