President Trump issued a profane call to NFL team owners to fire players who engage in peaceful political protest on the field while speaking Friday night at an Alabama rally for Sen. Luther Strange (R). "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?'" Trump asked his audience. "Out. He's fired. He's fired." The rally crowd responded with cheers.
"You know what's hurting the game?" the president continued. "When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they're playing our great national anthem." Trump encouraged his supporters to walk out of the stadium in counter-protest should they ever observe an NFL player's protest in person.
Trump was referring to football players like Colin Kaepernick, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, who has silently declined to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice in America.
Trump's comments were widely decried, including by other NFL players, with many noting his words for Kaepernick were harsher than his responses to the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. The NFL Players Association issued a statement Saturday vowing to "never back down when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety."
Watch an excerpt of Trump's comments below, or see the entire speech here. Bonnie Kristian
Editor's note: This article originally incorrectly identified Kaepernick's former team. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.