President Donald Trump said Friday that National Football League owners should fire players who "disrespect" the American flag.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b--ch off the field right now,'" Trump told a cheering crowd at the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville, Ala. "He is fired. He's fired!"
"Some owner is going to do that. He is going to say, 'Anyone who disrespects our flag, he is fired.'
"They will be the most popular person in this country," the president said.
"Total disrespect of our heritage. A total disrespect of everything that we stand for.
"I know that we have freedoms and we have freedom of choice and many, many different freedoms," the president added. "It is still totally disrespectful."
Last season, Colin Kaepernick — former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who now is without a job in the league — refused to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the start of 49ers games.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL.com in August 2016.
The protests have drawn widespread support and backlash.
After last month's white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, that killed one woman and injured 19 others, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said he would follow suit.
"I can't stand for the national anthem," Bennett told CNN. "I can't stand right now.
"I'm not going to be standing until I see the equality and freedom."
Trump urged fans Friday to "leave the stadium to protest people doing things like kneeling during the national anthem.
"I guarantee these things will stop," he said.
Trump also ripped the NFL's efforts to prevent concussions.
"They're ruining the game, right?" he asked the crowd. "They're ruining the game.
"Not the same game anymore, anyway."
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