Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross responded Saturday to President Trump's criticism of NFL players who protest during the national anthem, calling for unifying leadership" not "divisiveness".

"Our country needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness," Ross said in a statement on Saturday. "We need to seek to understand each other and have civil discourse instead of condemnation and sound bites."


"I know our players who kneeled for the anthem and these are smart young men of character who want to make our world a better place for everyone," he continued. "They wanted to start a conversation and are making a difference in our community, including working with law enforcement to bring people together."

Four players in the Miami Dolphins knelt in prayer during the national anthem before a number of games last NFL season in a statement against racial injustice in the U.S. 

Ross joins a number of NFL players and team owners who have criticized Trump after he hit at players who kneel during the national anthem during a campaign rally Friday night.

Trump told the crowd they should leave in protest if they see a player kneeling during the anthem.

"When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they are playing our great national anthem – the only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it's one player, leave the stadium," Trump said. "I guarantee things will stop."

Trump doubled down on his comments in a pair of tweets Saturday, saying NFL players who protest the flag or anthem "should find something else to do." 

Ross, a longtime GOP donor who helped fundraise for Mitt Romney in 2012 and Jeb Bush in 2016, called for people to learn and listen to one another in response to Trump's comments.

"We can all benefit from learning, listening and respecting each other. Sports is a common denominator in our world. We all have the responsibility to use this platform to promote understanding, respect and equality," Ross concluded.