CNN's Cuomo: Trump is telling NFL owners 'control your dog'

CNN’s Chris Cuomo said Thursday that President Trump’s criticism of NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem sounds like he's telling NFL owners to "control your dog."

The commentary comes after Trump discussed the NFL controversy that has been prominent in the news cycle this week in an interview broadcast Thursday on "Fox & Friends."

“He’s effectively trolling the owners, and it’s the language he understands of fear and goading," said Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon on CNN's "New Day."

“But maybe even uglier than that,” anchor Cuomo responded. “It does sound a little bit — and obviously you can come at me on Twitter for this — like he’s saying 'control your dog, control your dog’ to the owners.”

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“I’m trying to map it here,” he added. “They’re his friends, the owners, okay. To his friends, he creates a false issue, which puts them in a huge bind.”

“Then he says, ‘Well, I feel bad about what’s happening there with these guys,' which clearly he does not because he created this issue to foment political tension. And now he says they’re fearful of the players, so he is setting up the ugliest kind of tension you can," Cuomo concluded.

“He seems to feel his core job is to enflame culture wars,” Avlon, also a CNN contributor, noted. “To distract, and not actually do his job as it relates to North Korea, passing major legislation. And there are folks in the White House who think this is a win, and presumably, the president does too.”

Trump told "Fox & Friends" contributor Pete Hesgeth in an interview from the White House that NFL owners are "in a box" on the issue.

"I have so many friends that are owners. And they're in a box. I mean, I've spoken to a couple of them, they say 'we are in a position where we have to do something,' " Trump said. "I think they're afraid of their players, you want to know the truth. It's disgraceful."

"They have rules for everything. You can't dance in the end zone, you can't wear the pink socks relative to breast cancer, they have rules for everything," Trump added. "Why aren't they honoring this country by enforcing a rule that's been in existence for a long time?"

"They've got to be tough, and they've got to be smart. Because you look at the ratings, the ratings are going way down. Stadiums are, I've seen a couple of stadiums over the last few weeks, there are a lot of empty seats. I couldn't even believe it."

The Green Bay Packers host the Chicago Bears on NFL Network Thursday night.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said his team plans to lock arms before the game and is urging fans in attendance to do the same.