— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) September 28, 2017
Donald Trump is not backing down from his criticism of NFL players protesting during the national anthem. The president tweeted Sunday that those who protest during “The Star-Spangled Banner” should be fired or suspended. But since then, more demonstrations and dissent has emerged.
“The NFL cannot disrespect our country, they cannot disrespect our flag or our national anthem,” Trump tells “Fox & Friends” Thursday, Sept. 28. “And they can’t have people sitting down or kneeling down during our national anthem. And I saw this a year ago with [then-San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin] Kaepernick and I said, ‘That’s a terrible thing.'”
Trump, who took a shot at Kaepernick’s ongoing free agency in March, added that “most people agree” with his tweet and that the NFL needs to “do something” about the demonstrations.
“I have so many friends that are owners,” Trump said. And they’re in a box. I’ve spoken to a couple of them, they said ‘We are in a situation where we have to do something.’ I think they’re afraid of their players [if] you wanna know the truth and I think it’s disgraceful. … If you look at the ratings, the ratings are going way down. … I’ve seen a couple of stadiums of the last few weeks. They are … there are a lot of empty seats.”
However, Bloomberg reported that NFL ratings have actually been mixed. While NBC and Fox viewership has declined, CBS has seen an increase in viewers since 2016. Plus, ESPN saw a 63 percent growth in ratings when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Arizona Cardinals Monday, Sept. 25.
More on Trump, Kaepernick and the NFL Protest
“When it comes to the respect of our nation, when it comes to the respect of our anthem and our flag — they have no choice,” Trump added of NFL owners. “You have to have people stand with respect.”
And it seems like the president is taking a hands-on approach to making that happen. Trump tweeted that he spoke to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who kneeled and locked arms with the players before the anthem. According to Trump, the Cowboys won’t be demonstrating going forward.
Spoke to Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys yesterday. Jerry is a winner who knows how to get things done. Players will stand for Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2017
Two sources told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth Thursday that Trump called Jones four times Monday to decide what the team would do during the anthem. The source added that before kickoff, Jones urged the team to lock arms and kneel before the anthem and then stand and lock arms as the tune played.
Players seemed to be unaware of the Jones-Trump conversation and remained largely silent when asked about the president’s tweet.
“I’m not here to judge what the president said,” quarterback Dak Prescott told The Dallas Morning News Wednesday. “I mean, he’s free to speak just like the rest of us are. He’s going to say whatever he wants. We’ve all figured that out.”