President Donald Trump continued his attack early Sunday morning for the third day in a row on NFL players protesting during the national anthem.
Trump tweeted at 5:44 a.m. suggesting fans should boycott the league if the protests continue.
“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!” Trump tweeted hours before the start of Sunday’s NFL games.
Trump doubled down again in a second tweet a short time later that the protests of players’ kneeling down during the anthem are hurting the league.
“NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.”
Trump’s position unified more players kneeling during the anthem to protest racial injustice.
Trump lashed out while speaking at a political rally in Huntsville, Ala., on Friday night when he took on the NFL and its players.
“We’re proud of our country. We respect our flag,” Trump said to loud applause at the campaign event.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He’s fired! He’s fired!’ ”
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Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said President Donald Trump’s comments regarding players in the league are troubling.
“For me, to single out any particular group of players and call them SOBs, to me, that’s insulting and disgraceful,” Tagliabue said Sunday morning at Bank of America Stadium, where he was attending the New Orleans Saints-Carolina Panthers game as a guest of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.
Tagliabue praised the work of players in their communities. He said Trump, who called for NFL owners to fire players who don’t stand for the national anthem, appeared to be attempting to curtail free speech.
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Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a groin injury last week in New Orleans, and wide receiver Danny Amendola, who missed a game with a concussion, were both active for the New England Patriots as they faced the Houston Texans.
Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee) and starting offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle, concussion) missed the contest.
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Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin went out with a left knee injury Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
Benjamin did not return to the game. He had two catches for 8 yards at Bank of America Stadium.
Benjamin was dragged down by Saints cornerback Ken Crawley on the final play of the first quarter and walked gingerly off the field.