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Trump suggests players who don't stand for anthem 'shouldn't be in the country'

President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony honoring the Army football team at the White House, May 1, 2018.

JOE GROMELSKI/STARS AND STRIPES

By LOYD BRUMFIELD | The Dallas Morning News (Tribune News Service) | Published: May 24, 2018

President Donald Trump, in praising the National Football League's new policy against kneeling during the national anthem, suggested players who insist on doing so should be kicked out of the country.

"You have to stand proudly for the national anthem," Trump said Thursday morning on Fox & Friends. "Or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there, maybe you shouldn't be in the country."

The NFL announced a new anthem policy Wednesday — without consulting players — that allows players to stay in locker rooms during the song, but if they are on the field, they must stand.

Trump praised the league's decision with a caveat.

"I don't think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still I think it's good," he told Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade.

The NFL revised its policy in the wake of controversy created two seasons ago when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem to protest the treatment of blacks at the hands of police officers.

Other players quickly joined in by kneeling themselves, and it created a firestorm of constant criticism from Trump and conservatives who said players who kneel disrespect the flag and the military.

Kaepernick has been unable to land a job in the NFL since then.

Trump credited the American people with helping the NFL come to a decision.

"I think the people pushed it forward. This was not me. I brought it out. I think the people pushed it forward. This country's very smart. We have very smart people," Trump said on the Fox program.

The Associated Press, Politico and CNN contributed to this report.

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