In ongoing spat, Trump hits National Football League on poor ratings

Trump told reporters outside the White House that the NFL was "in a really bad box" and took aim at the league's ratings. "Fire or suspend!" Trump wrote. "Now you have this whole thing going and it's a very unsafe thing 'cause we can not let anyone disrespect our country like that".

Players have said the protest, which began with then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the anthem, is their way of protesting racial inequality and police brutality.

Speaking to the press on Tuesday, President Trump said he was "ashamed" of the athletes who kneel during the American national anthem, which is played before almost all major sporting events in the US.

Trump doubled-down on his stance on Twitter Sunday, calling for NFL owners to punish players who refuse to stand for the national anthem.

"I think it is a very important thing for the NFL to not allow people to kneel during the playing of the national anthem", Trump added. We have to respect our country.

The protests involved players kneeling, linking arms or staying in the locker room during the Star-Spangled Banner. Nor has the commissioner had to rebuke a president, like NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did last week. Even though the teams tried to take themselves out of the debate, many people on social media called for them to be punished by the NFL. "Big progress being made-we all love our country!", the tweet read.

The players' protests were the latest twist in a bitter war of words between Trump and United States professional sports.

His criticism seemed to galvanise players, teams and the league to assert what they saw as a right to freely express political convictions.

Numerous boos rang out across University of Phoenix Stadium as the Cowboys kneeled and continued as the players rose, still arm-in-arm, and stepped back to the sideline as the flag was unfurled across the field. -There remains wide disparity about how fans and teams should react to players who protest the anthem, with 9 percent agreeing with Trump that they should be fired and 18 percent saying they should be disciplined.

When asked what changed for him, Thomas said, "to have the president trying to intimidate people - I wanted to send a message that I don't condone that".

  • Julie Sanders