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Trump: Suspending Kaepernick would have prevented player protest

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 10/12/2017 DENIS SLATTERY
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Video by FOX Sports

President Trump played Monday morning quarterback on Wednesday, opining that the NFL could have avoided any controversy regarding protesting players if it had only suspended Colin Kaepernick last year.

Trump’s fixation on players kneeling during the national anthem was brought up during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

“I watched Colin Kaepernick and I thought it was terrible. And then it got bigger and bigger and started mushrooming,” Trump said. “And frankly the NFL should have suspended him for one game and he would have never done it again.”

The President has spent weeks harping about players who kneel during the “Star-Spangled Banner,” calling the form of silent protest disrespectful to the flag.

Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, became the first to take a knee last season to protest the killing of unarmed black men by police. He was not signed by a team this season.

Trump's latest advice to the NFL came hours after he attempted to claim victory in his bizarre battle over the protests, tweeting that “it is about time” that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is “finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY.”

Goodell has made no such demand.

The commissioner had issued a memo to all 32 teams on Tuesday saying that he believes players should stand.

NFL owners will consider changes to a game manual that also says players “should” stand during the national anthem at meetings in Manhattan next week.

Representatives from the players’ union will join owners at the meetings, according to a joint statement released Wednesday.

“There has been no change in the current policy regarding the anthem,” the NFL said in a joint statement with the league’s Players Association. “The agenda will be a continuation of how to make progress on the important social issues that players have vocalized.”

Trump thrust himself into the center of the debate over the protests by calling on owners to fire players who take a knee or raise a fist last month.

On Tuesday, Trump continued to take shots, questioning NFL tax breaks and saying that the league is “disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country.”

He also attacked ESPN’s Jemele Hill, blaming the anchor for having “tanked” the network’s ratings.

Hill was suspended on Monday after encouraging those who disagree with NFL owners directing players to stand to target team advertisers.

Trump’s heated rhetoric, which has never once touched on the issues that players say they are protesting, has only led to a larger number of stars taking a knee. 

“You cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem. You cannot do that,” Trump seethed on Fox News Wednesday.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said earlier this week that they expect their players to stand during the anthem.

Players were not pleased with the prospect of being forced to stand.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Gerald McCoy said there might “be an uproar.”

“I don’t think guys are gonna like it,” McCoy said on Adam Schefter’s Know Them From Adam podcast. “I think it’s gonna be an uproar if that is to happen because you’re basically taking away a constitutional right to freedom of speech. If guys wanna have a, I guess you would call it a peaceful protest, I don’t think it’s right to take that away.”

With News Wire Services 

Related slideshow: 2017-18 NFL season (Provided by photo services) 

FOXBOROUGH - OCTOBER 22: New England Patriots Malcolm Butler celebrates with teammates after a goal line stand during the fourth quarter. The New England Patriots hosted the Atlanta Falcons in an NFL regular season football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Oct. 22, 2017. 2017-18 NFL season


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