President Donald Trump on Wednesday expressed his disapproval with the National Football League and its owners over reports that they may institute changes to the league's national anthem policy next season if the current protests continue.
Trump tweeted in response to a Washington Post report in which several sources said that if the controversies over the national anthem continue through the end of the season, then the NFL and its owners will keep the players in the locker room during the pregame ceremony.
"I think that if players are still kneeling at the end of the year, then it could very well happen," said one person familiar with the owners' deliberations on anthem-related issues.
Trump's disapproval with the NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, has been ongoing since the protests began during the 2016 season, and have heated up during the current season. In addition to slamming the potential policy chance on Wednesday, Trump specifically targeted Goodell's pay. The commissioner was paid $31.7 million in 2015. Since the league surrendered its nonprofit status in 2015, it is no longer required to report Goodell's salary. NFL owners are currently debating a contract extension for the commissioner.
"The NFL is now thinking about a new idea – keeping teams in the Locker Room during the National Anthem next season. That’s almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid Commissioner finally get tough and smart? This issue is killing your league!…..," Trump tweeted.
The NFL is now thinking about a new idea – keeping teams in the Locker Room during the National Anthem next season. That’s almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid Commissioner finally get tough and smart? This issue is killing your league!…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2017
During the 2017 season, the president has not minced words when it comes to criticizing NFL players who do not stand during the national anthem. In September, Trump expressed how important it is that players "STAND" and "Respect our Flag and our Country!"
Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017
Trump has also consistently blamed the NFL "leadership," or lack thereof, for not doing more to ensure players stand.
Two dozen NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, showing total disrespect to our Flag & Country. No leadership in NFL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2017