Many owners of National Football League franchises have condemned President Trump’s statements that players who refuse to stand for the national anthem should be fired or suspended.
At an Alabama campaign rally on Friday and in subsequent tweets over the weekend, the president has condemned the actions of “son of a bitch” players who have kneeled during the anthem to protest racism and police brutality, as well as what the president saw as the NFL’s enabling of such behavior.
The most notable condemnation came on Sunday from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a longtime friend of Trump who donated more than $1 million towards his inauguration.
“I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday,” Kraft said in a statement. “I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger. There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics. I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal. Our players are intelligent, thoughtful and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful.”
Kraft, also a longtime philanthropic supporter of Jewish causes, recounted in a Fox News interview earlier this year taht Trump had called him once a week after Kraft’s wife died. “I’m loyal to my friends,” Kraft said. “I remember who are the people there for the tough times.”
New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch also directly criticized the president, calling his statements “inappropriate, offensive and divisive.” Other owners who praised athlete-protesters and the importance of unifying as a nation, but did not mention Trump directly, include Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, and Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie.
As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern, the following Jewish NFL owners have not published any responses to Trump’s remarks: Zygi Wilf of the Minnesota Vikings, Dan Snyder of the Washington Redskins, and the Glazer family of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.