BOSTON (CBS) — Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft issued a statement Sunday morning responding to President Donald Trump’s comments about players who take a knee during the National Anthem.
“I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday,” Kraft wrote. “I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities.”
At a campaign rally Friday night, Trump told a Huntsville, Alabama crowd owners should fire players who do not stand while the Star Spangled Banner is played.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said.
He followed those comments up with tweets Saturday morning, saying players who don’t respect the flag should “Find something else to do!”
But Kraft, who enjoys a close relationship with the president and even gave him a commemorative Super Bowl ring during the Patriots’ visit to the White House in April, took issue with Trump’s comments.
“Our players are intelligent, thoughtful, and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful,” Kraft wrote in his response.
Some of Kraft’s players fired back at the President with tweets of their own.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady posted a message of unity on his personal Facebook and Instagram pages:
“Stand or kneel, that’s a free choice, you won’t see any division in this locker room over that, we respect each other too much,” tweeted offensive lineman Nate Solder.
Patriots captain and safety Devin McCourty fired back at the President with a tweet of his own.
League Commissioner Roger Goodell responded with a statement Saturday night.
Kraft had some advice for moving forward–learn from football teams’ example of teamwork and leadership.
“There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics,” Kraft wrote. “I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal.”