NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to all teams Tuesday calling on players to “honor the flag”, sparking a response from President Trump.
“It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem – RESPECT OUR COUNTRY,” Trump tweeted early Wednesday.
The President’s comments follow Goodell’s memo to NFL executives and club presidents, aiming to move past the weeks-long feud between the White House and NFL players who have kneeled or otherwise protested during the national anthem at the start of NFL games.
“We live in a country that can feel very divided. Sports, and especially the NFL, brings people together and lets them set aside those divisions, at least for a few hours,” Goodell wrote. “The current dispute over the National Anthem is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country.”
Goodell added: “Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.”
He noted that the NFL “cares deeply” about players and “respect” their “opinions and concerns about critical social issues.”
“The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues,” Goodell wrote. “We need to move past this controversy and we want to do that together with our players.”
Goodell and NFL team owners will meet in New York City next week for their annual fall meeting, where the protests are expected to be discussed.
Vice President Pence got involved in the feud last weekend, when he traveled to his home state of Indiana to attend the Indianapolis Colts vs. San Francisco 49ers game on Sunday. The Vice President left the game when players did not stand for the anthem.
Trump on Wednesday also slammed “fake news” and Democrats, ahead of his tax reform speech in Middletown, Pa., Wednesday evening.
“It would be really nice if the Fake News Media would report the virtually unprecedented Stock Market growth since the election. Need tax cuts,” Trump tweeted.