(JTA) — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he was “deeply disappointed” by President Donald Trump’s clash with NFL players.
Trump at a rally Friday in Alabama called out football players who kneel during the national anthem as a protest against the treatment of blacks by police and other officials.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,’” Trump said at the rally.
The president later posted a series of tweets on the issue, saying “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect…. our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
He also tweeted: “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”
Kraft, who is Jewish and known as a longtime friend of the president, posted a response to Trump on the team’s Twitter account on Sunday.
“I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday,” he wrote. ” I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger.”
Kraft went on to say that “our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal. Our players are intelligent, thoughtful and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful.”
Trump also got into a row with the National Basketball Association, disinviting Golden State Warriors All-Star guard Steph Curry to a team visit at the White House. The Warriors won the NBA title in the past season, and it is traditional for the league’s champion to visit the White House — an honor that team members had debated accepting due to Trump’s positions on racial issues, including the far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Curry had indicated on Friday that when the team gathered on Saturday to decide whether to make the traditional visit that he would vote against it.
Trump tweeted early Saturday morning: “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”
Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, whose team lost to the Warriors in the championship, defended Curry, tweeting to his 38.5 million followers that visiting the White House is no longer a great honor.
“U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!” James wrote about Trump.