Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called the spreading national anthem protests by NFL players a “very sad thing” in an interview on Monday.
San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick began the trend during the preseason as he refused to stand for The Star-Spangled Banner and caught heat previously from Trump. The NFL's Week 1 national anthem protests included Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, four Miami Dolphins players (Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, Jelani Jenkins and Kenny Stills) kneeling, and New England Patriots players Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty along with Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters raising their fists.
“I think it’s a lack of respect for our country,” Trump said on Fox & Friends. “It’s a lack of appreciation for our country and it’s a very sad thing. I have never seen anything quite like it. You’re talking about a major sport, maybe the major sport. When you see that, it leads to a lot of other things. I think it’s lack of respect and appreciation of our country.”
Trump reiterated Kaepernick -- and now the other players -- should leave the U.S.
“They should try another country, see if they like it better, see how well they’ll be doing, see if they’ll make $20 million a year being a second-string quarterback,” Trump said.
Kaepernick, who chose to kneel in the in the 49ers’ final preseason game, and the 49ers face the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night. Kaepernick said his protest is meant to draw attention to police brutality and other struggles of people of color in the U.S.
“I don’t know if it helps,” Trump said. “The one thing that it does do is shows you have freedom. Freedom to do what you want to do. Freedom of expression. That’s the one thing it does show, but really I think it’s so sad.”