Roger Goodell Responds to Trump's "Lack of Respect" for the Game, League

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell - Getty - H 2017
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The president said of players who sit during the national anthem: "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired. He's fired!"

The NFL on Saturday morning responded to President Donald Trump's comments that team owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem.

The president made the comments Friday night at a rally for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange, saying in part, "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired. He's fired!"

Last season, free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to sit out the national anthem in protest of the treatment of African-Americans in America, especially at the hands of police officers. Since then, numerous other players have protested in similar fashion.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Trump's "divisive comments" were unacceptable, "showing 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 our good clubs and players represent in our communities."

The NFL players' union also addressed Trump's comments.

"The peaceful demonstrations by some of our players have generated a wide array of responses," the union said in a statement posted by ESPN's Adam Schefter. "Those opinions are protected speech and a freedom that has been paid for by the sacrifice of men and women throughout history."

The statement continued, "This expression of speech has generated thoughtful discussions in our locker rooms and in board rooms. However, the line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just 'shut up and play.' "