Members of the New England Patriots take a knee during the national anthem on Sept. 24. Photo by Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots’ Robert Kraft ‘disappointed’ with Trump over clash with NFL players


New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he was “deeply disappointed” by President Donald Trump’s clash with NFL players.

Trump on Friday at a rally in Alabama fired the first salvo, calling 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 during 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 long-time friend of the president, posted a response to Trump on the team’s Twitter account on Sunday.

Kraft wrote: “I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday. 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. There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics. I think 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 in a tweet Golden State Warriors stand-out point guard Steph Curry to team visit to the White House.

The Warriors won the 2016 NBA League Championship. It is traditional for the winning team to visit the White House, an honor which team members had debated accepting due to Trump’s positions on racial issues, including the Charlottesville, Virginia rally. 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, rose to defend 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!”

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