"Get that son of a bitch off the field right now," Trump suggested, in a thinly-veiled reference to free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, declaring that spectators — after plunking down ticket prices, parking fees and doling out many dollars for expensive branded merchandise — should simply "leave the stadium," in response to the peaceful protest actions of a handful of professional football players, according to The Hill.
The reaction to Trump's wandering commentary was quick, unified, and pointed, as players past and present, bosses and other officials uniformly decried the president's remarks using words like "divisive," unacceptable" and a "disgrace," cited by the Huffington Post.
— George Iloka (@George_iloka) September 23, 2017
The union that represents National Football League (NFL) players was unequivocal in expressing support for the rights of players to protest peacefully, as the group's chief tweeted that the organization "will never back down" on that right.
— DeMaurice Smith (@DeSmithNFLPA) September 23, 2017
Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, tweeted that "divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect" for the game, the organization and the players.
— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) September 23, 2017
Many noted that Trump appeared to display much less anger toward violent racists than toward Americans exercising their right to free speech.
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) September 23, 2017