Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports



San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York issued the following statement in response to Friday night's controversial comments by President Trump.

"The callous and offensive comments made by the President are contradictory to what this great country stands for. Our players have exercised their rights as United States citizens in order to spark conversation and action to address social injustice. We will continue to support them in their peaceful pursuit of positive change in our country and around the world. The San Francisco 49ers will continue to work toward bringing communities, and those who serve them, closer together."

President Trump spoke at a campaign rally in Huntsville, Alabama and continued to express his disapproval over protests of the national anthem that take place across the NFL.

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

The comments were followed by cheers from the crowd in attendance.

Trump also said, "[such an owner would] be the most popular person in this country. Because that's a total disrespect of our heritage. That's a total disrespect for everything we stand for."

DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, responded with the following tweet early Saturday morning and asked for the league to issue an official response as well.


The NFL was quick to respond, issuing the following statement from commissioner Roger Goodell.

"The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. 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. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities."

Player protests gained notoriety last season when former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem during the NFL preseason. It was viewed as a controversial stance that many believe cost the quarterback a job in the league.

"People don't realize what's really going on in this country," Kaepernick told the media last year as he initially explained his reasoning for the protest. "There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust. People aren't being held accountable for. And that's something that needs to change. That's something that this country stands for freedom, liberty, and justice for all. And it's not happening for all right now."

While 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have clearly stated on multiple occasions that Kaepernick simply wasn't a fit for the team's offensive vision, the quarterback has received little interest from NFL teams and remains available three weeks into the regular season.

Since Kaepernick kicked off his protest to bring awareness to what he views as unjust actions across the nation, numerous other NFL players have joined his cause by also refusing to stand for the national anthem.

The impact has reached beyond the NFL. A day after Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry told reporters that he would rather not accept an invitation to visit the White House due to his objections of the current administration's policies and actions, he learned that the invitation was withdrawn by President Trump.

Curry is not the only Warriors player who feels that way toward President Trump and his actions. The team had already planned a meeting to discuss whether or not they would choose to visit the White House – a tradition for championship teams. Numerous members of the reigning NBA champions, including head coach Steve Kerr, have been openly critical of Trump and his policies.

"The president made it really, really difficult for us to honor that institution," Kerr has said.

Meanwhile for the 49ers, safety Eric Reid, who had joined Kaepernick in his protest last season, continues to kneel during the national anthem. He has the support of several teammates who stand next to him before each game and place their hands on his shoulder while he kneels.

In August, Reid spoke to reporters and said he was glad the protest with Kaepernick helped to spread awareness but didn't appreciate the false narrative that went along with it.

"People were saying that we were un-American, that we were against police entirely, and the military, and that just wasn't true," Reid said. "And at first, I thought that was a small sacrifice to pay to get the word out, to raise that awareness. And I settled with raising that awareness was victory. And then fast forward to Charlottesville and the country sees what an un-American protest really looks like and that's when I had my change of heart.

"What Colin, Eli, and I did was a peaceful protest fueled by our faith in God to help make our country a better place and I feel like I need to regain control of that narrative and not let people say that what we're doing is un-American because it's not. It's completely American. We're doing it because we want equality for everybody. We want our country to be a better place. That's why I decided to resume the protest."

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