Speed Reads

national anthem protests

Patriots owner Robert Kraft slammed Trump's attacks on NFL kneeling as 'divisive' and 'horrible'

Audio of an October 2017 meeting between NFL owners, executives, and player leaders obtained by The New York Times reveals the conflict the league's management faced as President Trump ramped up his criticism of the national anthem protests last fall. "The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don't feel is in the best interests of America," New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told the room, despite his close relationship with the president. "It's divisive and it's horrible."

The players in the room "sounded aggravated" on the topic of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who initiated kneeling during the national anthem, and how he remains unsigned — a fact many believe is the result of collusion by the owners. Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long announced that "we all agree in this room as players that he should be on a roster." The owners pushed back, with Houston Texans owner Bob McNair instructing the players to enforce no kneeling on their teams. "You fellas need to ask your compadres, fellas, stop that other business, let's go out and do something that really produces positive results," he said, "and we'll help you."

Afterward, Kraft suggested a statement with the word "unified" or "unity," with the final product claiming the executives, owners, and players discussed plans "to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change." Read more about the tape obtained by The New York Times here.