President Donald Trump has been sticking by his criticism of football players who kneel during the National Anthem and has also been brushing off a rebuke from the commissioner of the National Football League.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Saturday that Trump's comments about players who kneel during the national anthem are "divisive" and show an "unfortunate lack of respect."
On Twitter later in the day, Trump said Goodell "put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country. Tell them to stand!"
Trump suggested during a speech Friday night that NFL owners should fire players who kneel during "The Star-Spangled Banner." Several athletes, including a handful of NFL players, have refused to stand to protest treatment of blacks by police.
Titans Controlling Owner Amy Adams Strunk released the following statement on Saturday:
“I am proud to stand with our players and support them in their work on and off the football field. I completely agree with Commissioner Goodell that we are better off as a nation when we are unified and pulling together. I have seen that kind of attitude first-hand in Tennessee and across our country in the many benevolent and public-spirited efforts of our NFL players, often without any public recognition.
Our players make public contributions day-in and day-out and when I hear anyone making disparaging remarks about them, I know it has to be the result of not knowing what they bring to our communities or what they have accomplished.”
NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement that demonstrations are "protected speech" that has prompted "thoughtful discussions in our locker rooms and in board rooms."
"The line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just ‘shut up and play,’” Smith added.