While speaking at a Michigan rally Friday, President Donald Trump appeared to take another jab at Colin Kaepernick and the other NFL players who have knelt during the playing of the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
"We have pride in our history and respect for our great American flag," Trump said, per TMZ Sports. "We defend our flag, and we honor our flag. And if others honored our flag, they'd be a lot better off, wouldn't they? We put our hands on our hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance, and we do that proudly. And we stand for the national anthem."
It's Trump's latest shot in what has been a year-long war of words with the NFL players who have taken a knee during the anthem, and these remarks seemed directed specifically at players like Kaepernick and Eric Reid, who are both currently unsigned and were the first NFL players to kneel.
Trump's most pointed remarks came in September during a political rally in Alabama, per Bryan Armen Graham of the Guardian:
"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!' You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, 'That guy that disrespects our flag, he's fired.' And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they'll be the most popular person in this country."
NFL players like Kaepernick have repeatedly explained that their actions have nothing to do with disrespecting the flag and were done to raise awareness of issues facing minorities in the United States. A number of NFL athletes decried Trump's remarks in September:
Trump's war of words also extended to the NBA, particularly when he withdrew an invitation to the Golden State Warriors to attend the White House to celebrate their championship when Steph Curry made it clear the Warriors were unlikely to visit Trump.
That earned the ire of several NBA stars, including LeBron James:
On Friday, Trump again appeared to stoke the flames in his ongoing war against professional athletes using their platform to raise awareness for societal issues they are passionate about and want to see addressed.