President Donald Trump, who last season referred to NFL players who kneel in protest during the anthem as "sons of bitches," wondered aloud Thursday if the league's new policy is worse than the old one. Trump also bashed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and claimed ratings are down in part because of "the flag."
"If you don't respect the flag or you don't like the country or whatever it is just go into the locker room," Trump said, according to Yahoo! Sports. "Just go into the locker room. I think in many respects that's worse. Isn't that worse than having them not standing?"
Under the new anthem policy, all team and league personnel on the field must "stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem." Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room or a similar location off the field until its conclusion.
That policy, which stemmed from many players kneeling in protest last season for social justice reasons, was immediately challenged by the NFLPA, which issued a statement saying it would "review the new 'policy' and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement."
The kneeling began as a commentary on social justice by Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 season, and increased last season after Trump said players who kneel should lose their jobs and referred to them as sons of bitches.
"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.
Several Giants knelt during the anthem at different points last season, while Jets players locked arms.