Donald Trump tweeted his response to the NFL and NFLPA's statements after he criticized NFL players who protest during the national anthem.
"If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she not should be allowed to disrespect our great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!" he tweeted.
This comes a day after Trump spoke at a rally in Alabama where he advised NFL owners to fire players who kneel during the national anthem, a phenomenon started by former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick, and encouraged fans to walk out in protest.
The NFL and NFLPA responded to Trump's speech, expressing how President Trump showed a lack of respect to the league, and that their players have the right to do something about issues that impact them and their communities.
"The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we've experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect or the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement.
"The peaceful demonstrations by some of our players have generated a wide array of responses. Those opinions are protected speech and a freedom that has been paid for by the sacrifice of men and women throughout history. This expression of speech has generated thoughtful discussions in our locker rooms and in boardrooms. However, the line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just ‘shut up and play.’
NFL players do incredible things to contribute to their communities. NFL players are a part of a legacy of athletes in all sports who throughout history chose to be informed about the issues that impact them and their communities. They chose- and still chose today- to do something about those issues rather than comfortably living in the bubble of sports. Their decision is no different from the one made by countless others who refused to let ‘what they do’ define or restrict ‘who they are’ as Americans.
No man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces the to surrender their rights. No worker nor any athlete, professional or not, should be forced to become less than human when it comes to protecting their basic health and safety. We understand that our job as a Union is not to win a popularity contest and it comes with a duty to protect the rights of our members. For that we take no apologies and never will," said the NFLPA in a statement.
NFL players and celebrities responded to Trump's statements on Twitter, expressing their disappointment and anger.