BOSTON (CBS) — The controversy of NFL players protesting during the national anthem before games does not appear to be going away any time soon. The NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement on Wednesday in which they said they’ll be discussing a cohesive plan next week to try to determine the best course of action for both sides going forward.

Through all of the swirling national coverage and debates of the protests, one of the most surprising voices to come out against President Donald Trump’s stance has been Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The two have a long relationship as friends, and Kraft was seen traveling on Air Force One back in March. He also visited Trump Tower in November, after Trump won the election, and he dined with Trump and the Japanese prime minister at Mar-A-Logo in February.

Yet after Trump called for owners to say “get that son of a bitch off the field right now” if a player protested, Kraft released a statement saying he was “disappointed by the tone” of the comments made by the President of the United States.

In an interview with the BBC, Kraft said that Trump’s comments were “inflammatory,” thus prompting him to release his public statement on Sept. 24.

Robert Kraft disembarks from Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on March 19, 2017.(Photo by Pete Marovich-Pool/Getty Images)

“I think there were some comments made about what our young men were doing that were a little inflammatory and inappropriate, and I thought I had to speak out,” Kraft told the BBC. “And I spoke to the team and I told them that they were free to do what they thought was correct.”

President Donald Trump talks to Robert Kraft at the White House in April 2017.
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Kraft said that he personally believes in standing during the national anthem, but he respects his players enough to try to understand their side.

“The greatest enemy in sport is division from within. And I personally feel it’s very important to respect our flag and our anthem. But I also respect the right of people in this country to make statements or protests peacefully, in a way that’s appropriate to them,” Kraft said.

And, unlike Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Kraft did not threaten any of his players if they choose the national anthem as the time for their demonstrations.

“I try to bring unity and bring things together, and part of that is respecting how other people think, even if it’s genuine, even if it’s different than the way I speak,” Kraft said. “And the way you build team and you build success is to let people be themselves.”

Comments (89)
  1. What reason would you have to criticize the president for taking the patriotic position when the flag and anthem is under attack? How could this position be “inflamatory”?

  2. I’m still trying to figure out how it’s TRUMP who is “being divisive” when the PLAYERS began all of this divisiveness by the actions in disrespecting the anthem and the flag. Sorry, Mr. Kraft, you’re wrong on this one, and so are the players who have chosen our most sacred symbols of patriotism to s**t on.

  3. Kraft is full of it.. Another hypocritical, disingenuous NFL owner scared to death of its players. If players were kneeling because wanted to fight for ‘white rights’ or did the Nazi salute instead of the black power fist in the air, you know this Worm would not tolerate it for a second!! Nor should he.. White pride displays are disgusting.. Black pride is equally putrid.. And neither has any place in sports

  4. As a 37 year fan of the Patriots (I’m 50), I am officially DONE supporting them. Thank you, Mr. Kraft, for making my decision for me. I will always respect Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, but I will not be watching the Pats.

  5. Kelly Laraia says:

    Kraft to Trump….don’t tell me how to run my business.

  6. Actually, the racial incitement based on lies is inflammatory and inappropriate Bob…

  7. John Diaz says:

    The New England Traitors!

  8. Stella Folse says:

    I support the players right to express themselves also. However, I do not support them when they diss the country, the flag and veterans who served it those who died for it. Something 99% of NFL player would not do.. There are appropriate places and venues to protest. This is not one of them. I have joined those who have given up the NFL.

  9. John Smith says:

    A62-623 Of the NFL League rulebook states:
    The National Anthem must be played prior to the start of every game and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, players must stand at attention and face the flag. Failure to be on the field for the start of the National Anthem can result in fines, suspensions, and forfeiture of draft choices.
    The willful ignorance of all the owners sports commentators defending these protests is laughable. Trump is absolutely right, every one of these SOBs should be fired on the spot.

  10. “Trump’s Comments Were ‘Inflammatory,” No Trump is just bringing to light what has been happening in secret. He is stirring a pot you guys would just as soon ignore. The owners don’t want to deal with it because it is a lose-lose proposition for them.

  11. “Anti-racists” say there’s a RACE problem. They say it’ll be solved when non-Whites pour into ALL & ONLY White nations and “assimilate” to get a brown mixture.

    They say only White nations have this RACE problem; they say non-White nations are fine.

    If I object to my own genocide these “anti-racists” say I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

    They say they’re anti-racist. What they are is anti-White.

    Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-White.

  12. The National Felons League is now DEAD to me. This disrespect of Veterans and the National Anthem is NEVER tolerable.

    F-ing traitorous vermin pack of wife beaters and drug users. Execute them on the 50 yard line and play the game over their bloody corpses.

  13. Okay thanks for clearing up your position Mr. Kraft and simultaneously clearing my schedule of ever watching “The Patriots” in the future, ever.

  14. Clyde Boyd says:

    Kraft, the NFL and Good for Nothing Goodell is done.

  15. YES!!! thank you robert kraft, youve just HELPED us boycotters take away more of your money lolol

    falling ratings, lost revenue and lost adverts and these guys STILL wont shut their mouths lol

    by all means, keep digging the grave kraft…..we celebrate it

  16. Memo to Mr. Kraft: your audience is walking away in droves and they’re NOT coming back.

  17. I would suggest Kraft, and the other owners, have good bankruptcy lawyers on retainer. I won’t be back to watch any of their games but will get a chuckle when they go under.

  18. mrfubo says:

    Killing the golden goose.

  19. I used to love smoking but when I quit, I realized it was a time consuming addiction and I was gratefully liberated. I feel the same way about NFL.

  20. How about finding a Vet whose a quadriplegic or has no limbs, a war hero, has Purple Heart medals (preferrably Medal of Honor), has an awsome singing voice that will volunteer to sing the National Anthem at a NFL game and place him in front of these kneeling snowflakes in front of cameras broadcast on the world wide web and world television.

  21. They do not need to stand but I don’t watch traitors.

  22. Wonderful. If the PROTESTOR PLAYERS have any guts at all they’ll CONTINUE to protest. If Your collective conscience is much more important than “the reason you’re playing”. Never forget that! Never compromise! (And good riddance to the NFL!)

  23. I will peacefully protest by not watching the NFL as the NFL, owners and athletes, continue to behave like totally clueless buffoons that have not a clue about their fan base. More power to the NFL as they dig themselves deeper into a hole.

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