NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Saturday responded toattacking the NFL and players who kneel in protest during the national anthem, saying the president’s “divisive comments” reveal an “unfortunate lack of respect” for the NFL and contributions players make to their communities.
Goodell issued the statement after Mr. Trump spent a portion of his 83-minute speech at a rally foron Friday night bashing the NFL for allowing games to be less violent, and urging them to fire players like Colin Kaepernick who refuse to stand for the national anthem.
“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodell said in a statement. “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 for 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.”
Mr. Trump took to Twitter on Saturday night to criticize Goodell’s statement. “Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country. Tell them to stand!”
The NFL Players Association, a union for NFL players, responded that they “no longer can afford to stick to sports.”
“We will never back down,” executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement. “We no longer can afford to stick to sports.”
Smith said the union “will never back down when it comes to the constitutional rights” of their players and their safety in a “game that exposes…