United States President Donald Trump called on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to "make a stand" Friday after the league and its Players Association announced a "standstill agreement" to postpone enforcement of punishments related to protests during the national anthem.
"The NFL national anthem debate is alive and well again—can't believe it!" Trump wrote on Twitter. "Isn't it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!"
In May, NFL owners approved a new policy that would allow the league to fine teams who had a player kneel during the anthem. Players, who were given the option to remain in the locker room, could have received individual discipline from their organizations for kneeling.
The NFLPA responded by filing a non-injury grievance against the league earlier this month alleging the new anthem policy was "inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights."
In the latest announcement, the NFL and NFLPA said that "no new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing."
Tennessee Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey told Motez Bishara of CNN this week he's planning to protest during the 2018 season, even if it means he must pay fines.
Trump has consistently targeted the NFL for allowing players to kneel without punishment. In September, he called on owners to fire players who refused to stand for the anthem.
"For a week, (that owner would) be the most popular person in this country," he said. "Because that's a total disrespect of our heritage. That's a total disrespect for everything we stand for."
The NFL preseason is scheduled to begin Aug. 2 with the Hall of Fame Game between the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens. It's unclear whether a new agreement will be in place before that contest.