New England Patriots owner: Trump used kneeling players as ‘fodder to do his mission’
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The owner of the New England Patriots said in a meeting with NFL owners, executives and players that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Surveillance warrant docs show that Nunes memo 'misrepresented and distorted these applications' Chicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Ex-Trump aide: Surveillance warrants are 'complete ignorance' and 'insanity' MORE was using public fury over football players who kneel during the national anthem as "fodder to do his mission."

In an audio recording of the private meeting, which was obtained by The New York Times, Robert Kraft said that Trump seized on the national anthem protests to spread division and anger. 

"The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America,” Kraft, a longtime Trump supporter, said, according to the Times. "It’s divisive and it’s horrible."

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Jeffrey Lurie, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, said that NFL owners and teams had to be careful "not to be baited" by the president into behavior that may be used to stoke political outrage.

"We’ve got to be careful not to be baited by Trump or whomever else," Lurie said, according to the Times. "We have to find a way to not be divided and not get baited."

Trump has repeatedly criticized NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, a form of demonstration that started in 2016 with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as a way to protest police misconduct and racial inequality.

A feud ignited between the president and the league last year, after Trump suggested that team owners fire players who protested during the national anthem. 

Trump's outrage sparked threats by some supporters to boycott NFL games unless team owners and coaches did more to crack down on the player protests. 

At the NFL meeting, according to the Times, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan said that he believed that the worst of Trump's attacks were over. 

“All the damage Trump’s going to do is done,” he said.