Just days after President Trump mocked NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, top White House aide Kellyanne Conway told "Fox News Sunday" that high-profile athletes who want to protest should, effectively, go home.
NFL players again demonstrated during the anthem last week as the league began the 2018 preseason. Some players, like Robert Quinn of the Miami Dolphins, and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins and De’Vante Bausby, raised their fists in the air during the anthem, while others knelt.
"The president made very clear that he believes it’s not a big ask to have people stand for the flag during the national anthem at football games and elsewhere --- and that separately if these professional athletes want to go back into their communities or anywhere that they want, where they have considerable platforms and in most cases, then they should go and make their voices heard there," Conway said.
While NFL players cite racial injustice and police misconduct as the reasons for their protests, Conway claimed that Trump has, in fact, helped minority communities on the whole.
"We have to look at President Trump’s record with respect to men and woman of color," Conway said. "The record-low unemployment rate among African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and others is remarkable. ... The prison reform initiative that Jared Kushner and President Trump have put forth is meant to help all people of all races, but we know disproportionately that many of our prisons those are African-Americans that are languishing in these prisons."
Trump on Friday bashed NFL players who were “at it again,” kneeling during the national anthem, and encouraged them to “Be happy, be cool!” since they make a “fortune doing what they love.”
The president again warned players to “Stand proudly” for the national anthem, or “be suspended Without Pay!”“
In May, the NFL modified its national anthem policy, prohibiting any sort of demonstrations for the 2018 season and making individual teams responsible for disciplining players who protest on the field.
The players' union filed a grievance about the policy change, and late last month, the new policy was put on hold while the NFL and NFL Players Association work on a resolution.
In a statement released Thursday, the NFL said all players and team staff on the field were expected to stand for the flag or the anthem, reminding those who choose not to that they must remain in the locker rooms.
“The NFL has been engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans,” the NFL statement said. “While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem.”
Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.