NFL players lash out after Trump rants about athlete protests

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Image: Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Football players are lashing out at Donald Trump after the president went on an extended rant about athlete activism at a rally Friday night.

Trump called on NFL owners to fire players who kneel or otherwise protest during the national anthem and encouraged fans to boycott the league.

“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. Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!” Trump said.

The seemingly off-the-cuff comments drew instant condemnation from current and former players on Twitter. Activist and Intercept columnist Shaun King reported that the NFL Players Association was also preparing a critical response.

A growing number of NFL players and other athletes have made symbolic gestures during the anthem to call attention to incidents of police brutality as part of a movement former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started last fall.

Trump has previously attacked Kaepernick on multiple occasions and took credit for his current unemployment at a rally earlier this year.

This isn’t the first time Trump’s administration has called for the firing of private citizens. Just last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders called for ESPN to fire reporter Jemele Hill for calling Trump a white supremacist on Twitter.

The president also seemed to criticize the NFL for taking safety measures meant to reduce the number of head injuries that have caused players lasting brain damage.  

“They want to hit! It’s ruining the game,” he said. 

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