President Donald Trump, while speaking at a political rally Friday, said NFL fans should boycott games and team owners should fire players who fail to stand for the national anthem prior to games.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith both released statements early Saturday responding to the president's comments. The players are expected to respond in displays of unity on Sunday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports.
On Saturday and Sunday, NFL owners and CEOs responded as well, releasing statements disagreeing with President Trump's remarks.
"I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday. I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger. There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics. I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal. 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."
"Comments like we heard last night from the president are inappropriate, offensive and divisive. We are proud of our players, the vast majority of whom use their NFL platform to make a positive difference in our society."
"Our game has long provided a powerful platform for dialogue and positive change in many communities throughout our nation. Thanks primarily to our players, the NFL also has been a unifying force in our country and impactful change has and hopefully will continue to be the result of peaceful expression, done so in order to highlight social injustices of all kind. Negative and disrespectful comments suggesting otherwise are contrary to the founding principles of our country, and we do not support those countries or opinions."
"Our country needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness. We need to seek to understand each other and have civil discourse instead of condemnation and sound bites. I know our players who kneeled for the anthem and these are smart young men of character who want to make our world a better place for everyone. They wanted to start a conversation and are making a difference in our community, including working with law enforcement to bring people together. We all can benefit from learning, listening and respecting each other. Sports is a common denominator in our world. We all have the responsibility to use this platform to promote understanding, respect and equality."
"It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars today for the playing of the U.S. national anthem at Wembley Stadium. I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and out coaches during our anthem.
"Our team and the National Football League reflects our nation, with diversity coming in many forms -- race, faith, our views and our goals. We have a lot of work to do, and we can do it, but the comments by the President make it harder. That's why it was important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation."
"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."
"It was an honor and a privilege to stand arm-in-arm unified with our players during today's National Anthem. We are very proud of our players and their strong commitment to work in our community to make a positive, constructive, and unifying impact."
We recognize our players' influence. We respect their demonstration and support them 100 percent. All voices need to be heard. That's democracy in its highest form."
"It's unfortunate that the president decided to use his immense platform to make divisive and offensive statements about our players and the NFL. We strongly believe that players are leaders in our communities and positive influences. They have achieved their positions through tremendous work and dedication and should be celebrated for their success and positive impact. We believe it is important to support any of our players who choose to peacefully express themselves with the hope of change for good. As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely."
"We view our organization, our league and our players as great unifiers of people. Our players, just like so many others across our league, have been honest and thoughtful with their attempt to bring awareness to the issues of inequality and social injustice. We were incredibly moved by the meaningful and powerful dialogue they initiated within our organization when they spoke of their intent to unify and not be disrespectful while using familiar and important terms like on nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
"Their intent is to create positive and unifying change and that was demonstrated well by the unity they led prior to our home opener. They have continued to prove this dedication to unite diverse members of our community throughout this past month by establishing direct conversation with the Cleveland Police Department and creating a plan to work together in our neighborhoods. We are also proud of their many other significant efforts in our city throughout the year that are done quietly to improve the lives of others.
"We must not let misguided, uninformed and divisive comments from the President of anyone else deter us from our efforts to unify. Our stance in support of the liberties of peaceful, personal expression afforded to our players and all Americans will remain strong, and we will continue to encourage our players to respectfully use their earned platform to inspire positive change in our nation and throughout society."
"The NFL specifically, and football in general, has always unified our communities and families. The comments made by the President were divisive and counterproductive to what our country needs right now. I hope the reaction from our players results in positive action for our league, our communities and our country as a whole to make a positive difference in our society.
"Texans players are caring, intelligent men who do so much good, as was shown in the past month when our city was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. I have never been more proud of our players and our team than during this time. It was a display of what is truly possible when we all work together. We will continue to support our players to work together to promote the values of respect and unity."
"The Los Angeles Rams, our fan base and our city are all comprised of people from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. When we recognize that this diversity is our strength and seek to understand different perspectives, we are more enlightened and empathetic human beings. Our organization is committed to celebrating diversity, inclusion and respect, values that help define Los Angeles. We are proud of the work that our players and all NFL players do to make our communities better places to live. We believe in the tenets of the national anthem, which is a pillar of this country; just as freedom of speech is another pillar and a constitutional right. We will continue to support our players' freedom to peacefully express themselves and the meaningful efforts they make to bring about positive change in our country."
"We are at our very best when we are working together, building unity and including everyone's voice in a constructive dialogue. Creating division or demonizing viewpoints that are different than our own accomplishes nothing positive and undermines our collective ability to achieve the ideals of our democracy. The NFL has historically been a strong catalyst for positive change and I'm proud of the way our players, coaches and staff use that platform to give back to our community and strive to be good citizens making a positive impact on this and future generations."
"I am proud to stand with our players and support them in their work on and off the football field. I completely agree with Commissioner Goodell that we are better off as a nation when we are unified and pulling together. I have seen that kind of attitude first-hand in Tennessee and across our country in the many benevolent and public-spirited efforts of our NFL players, often without any public recognition.
"Our players make public contributions day-in and day-out and when I hear anyone making disparaging remarks about them, I know it has to be the result of not knowing what they bring to our communities or what they have accomplished."
"I wholeheartedly agree with the commissioner's statement. The NFL and its players, more than anything, have been a force for good. What our country needs right now is a message of unity, civility and mutual respect."
Spanos issued this statement on Sunday:
"I have tremendous respect for our flag and the men and women who defend it. Ours is the greatest nation in the world, one in which people are able to speak freely and stand up publicly for their beliefs. Our players, as do all Americans, have every right to speak their mind and from their heart. It was an honor to join them on the field today."
"The best of us lend our compassion and determination to the aid of others.
"Every day I see the genuine dedication and hard work of our players. And I support them as they take their courage, character and commitment into our communities to make them better or to call attention to injustice. Having spoken with our players, I can attest to the great respect they have for the national anthem and all it represents. We at the Philadelphia Eagles firmly believe that in this difficult time of division and conflict, it is more important than ever for football to be a great unifier."
"Our organization takes great pride in equality and inclusion and find the comments by the President disappointing and inappropriate relative to our players on this issue. Tom Benson served in the military and continues to this day to support all military branches and feels strongly that we honor those men and women who defend our freedoms and our freedom of speech. He also believes that the very players that represent the Saints and Pelicans organizations should be allowed to share or express their feelings.
"We prefer to take this moment in time and work together, all of us, to stop the divisiveness. Our players and our organization serve the New Orleans community selflessly and do so without care of race, creed or sexual orientation and that makes us a better city and a better team. We believe strongly in honoring our flag and the national anthem and what it represents and we support our players. We all must strive to show that we are all Americans and continue to work towards equality for all. The NFL and NBA, perhaps more than any sports, have the power to bring communities together."
"Our players have shown a tremendous commitment to raising awareness for important societal issues by using their platform in a positive way.
"In addition to their hard work off the field, we have great admiration for their dedication to making our team the absolute best it can be. They've made incredible sacrifices to reach this level, and we recognize they give their all to our team and fans each and every day.
"As an organization, we could not be more proud, appreciative and grateful for our players. We'll continue to support them and work together to advocate for values of respect, diversity and inclusion."
"Professional sports offer a platform unlike any other, a platform that can bring people from a variety of backgrounds together to impact positive change in our society. As owners, it is our job to foster an environment that recognizes and appreciates diversity of thought and encourages using this platform in a constructive manner. Rather than make divisive statements, we believe in promoting thoughtful, inspiring conversation that unifies our communities. We are proud of our players, coaches and staff for the important role they play in our community, and we fully support their constitutional right to respectfully and peacefully express their beliefs."
"Several of us met tonight -- players, coaches, staff, and ownership. Our goal was to provide open dialogue and communication. We listened to one another. We believe it's the best way to work through any issue we are facing -- on and off the field.
"President Trump's remarks were divisive and disrespectful to the entire NFL community, but we tried to use them as an opportunity to further unify our team and our organization.
"Our players have the freedom to express themselves in a respectful and thoughtful manner and we all agreed that our sole message is to provide and to promote an environment that is focused on love and equality."
"About a year ago, before our Tennessee game, I met with Derek Carr and Khalil Mack to ask their permission to have Tommie Smith light the torch for my father before the game in Mexico City. I explained to them that I was asking their permission because I had previously told them that I would prefer that they not protest while in the Raiders uniform. And should they have something to say, once their uniform was off, I might go up there with them.
"Over the last year, though, the streets have gotten hot and there has been a lot of static in the air and recently, fuel has been added to the fire. I can no longer ask our team to not say something while they are in a Raider uniform. The only thing I can ask them to do is do it with class. Do it with pride. Not only do we have to tell people there is something wrong, we have to come up with answers. That's the challenge in front of us as Americans and human beings."
"The Chicago Bears are proud to support our players, coaches and all members of our organization to bring peace and unity together through football. What makes this the greatest country in the world are all the liberties it was founded upon and the freedom to express oneself in a respectful and peaceful manner. Through important dialogue with our players and team, this divisive political situation has unified our franchise for the present and the future."
"I am troubled by the president's recent comments about our league and our players. Sports in America have the unique ability to bring people from all walks of life and from different points of view together to work toward or root for a common goal, and the Indianapolis Colts are proud to be a part of that tradition in our home city and state.
"The vast majority of players in the NFL -- especially those who have worn and continue to wear the Horseshoe -- have donated millions of dollars to charities, raised money for those affected by recent hurricanes, created charitable foundations, visited schools, mentored students, worked in homeless shelters, cleaned up parks, and put in hours of their personal time toward improving their communities and the lives of those around them.
"That's the spirit in which this nation was founded, and we all need to work tirelessly to bring people together to take on the challenges that face us and give back to the people of our communities. More so than any result on the field, that is a common goal worth rooting for."
"As we have stated previously, the Buccaneers recognize every individual's consitutional right to freedom of speech, which is crucial to the American way of life that we cherish. We are equally committed to the principles on inclusivity and respect for differing points of view that should be afforded to all Americans."
"We fully support our players' use of their freedom of speech and peaceful action to highlight the existing racial and other divides in our country. Our players completely respect the military and veterans of our country; however, they believe these issues need to come to the forefront."
"Our players have stayed unified and have respected the fact that, like our country, there are diverse opinions in our locker room. It is a difficult time in our country. I hope that eventually we will come together as a nation to respect the diverse opinions that exist and work together to make our communities better for our citizens."
"We are blessed in the National Football League to work with an outstanding group of players who, through their thoughtfulness and generosity, are deeply engaged in their communities. I believe in honoring the American flag and supporting all of those whose sacrifices protect the many freedoms we have in this country, including the right to have differences of opinion. Sports have long been a unifying force -- especially in challenging times -- and hatred and division have no place in our game. As a nation, we face serious challenges, and I believe as Americans, each of us has a responsibility to engage one another with empathy and humility to gain a better understanding of ways we can work together to solve these difficult issues."
"Football and politics don't mix easily. Fans come to NFL games to watch great competition on the playing field and that's where our focus should be."
Statement from the Washington Redskins organization (following Sunday's anthem in game vs. Raiders):
"Football has always served as the great unifier, bringing people together to celebrate the values of courage, commitment and achievement. We are proud of the players, coaches and fans of the Washington Redskins for all that they have done to improve the lives of others in neighborhoods all across our region.
"We are also grateful for the sacrifices made by the brave men and women of our armed forces that have provided us the freedom to play football. In that great tradition, the Washington Redskins will work to address divisions and bring unity, civility and respect to our greater community."
"I am extremely proud of our players and the contributions they make that extend well beyond the playing field. There are countless examples of the positive influence and extraordinary impact these players have on our community. Football is something that has always united us as Americans and, particularly in times like these, has the ability to inspire rather than divide. It's a responsibility in which we have always taken great pride and will continue to embrace."
"We are proud of the men we have on this football team. Our players have been active and impactful participants in making our community stronger. From the first time I stepped into an NFL Locker Room at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore in 1959, I have lived and seen the sport's ability to bring people of all backgrounds together. Politicizing the game is damaging and takes the focus off the greatness of the game itself and those who play it."