Trump doubles down on NFL players 'disrespecting' flag and country: 'Fire or suspend!'

Trump doubles down on NFL players 'disrespecting' flag and country: 'Fire or suspend!'
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President Trump early Sunday ramped up his criticism of NFL players who refuse to stand for the national anthem, calling for them to be fired or suspended and slamming the league.

“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast,” he tweeted. “Fire or suspend!”

"NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN," he said in a subsequent tweet. "Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S."

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Trump sparked controversy Friday night when he blasted NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick at a raucous campaign rally in Alabama.

Trump said during that event that players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired and fans should leave games.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. He is fired,'" Trump said.

Several NFL players fired back at Trump on Twitter.

Washington Redskins linebacker Zach Brown, for example, told the president on Twitter to stay in his place, and Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron suggested that Trump should "stick to politics."

The league's commissioner, Roger Goodell, on Saturday also issued a statement condemning Trump's "divisive" rhetoric.

“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodell said. “There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we've experienced over the last month.”

Trump also announced via Twitter on Saturday that NBA star Stephen Curry was no longer welcome at the White House after the Golden State Warriors point guard said he didn't want to pay the president a visit, a tradition for championship teams.

"Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team," Trump tweeted. "Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!"

Curry later said it was “beneath” Trump's position to publicly attack him.

--This report was updated at 7:17 a.m.