Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins says he thinks President Donald Trump doesn't understand why some NFL players knelt during the playing of the national anthem last season.
In an interview Thursday, Hopkins told TMZ that he thinks Trump is too “close-minded” to listen to players and address their concerns.
"I think Trump is more closed-minded and he thinks the reason that we're kneeling is because of the flag," the 26-year-old said, "when that's, like, not at all the reason we're kneeling."
Trump expressed an openness recently to listen to NFL players’ suggestions regarding people deserving of pardons or commuted sentences, the Washington Post reported. But players responded that a few pardons wouldn’t fix the systematic injustices that NFL players were protesting.
“If President Trump thinks he can end these injustices if we deliver him a few names, he hasn’t been listening to us,” current and former players wrote in a New York Times op-ed last week.
Players, following the lead of free agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have said they kneel to protest social injustices, particularly against African-Americans, and not the military or American flag.
"I kneeled last year and one of my best friends is a Purple Heart veteran and my uncle is a Purple Heart veteran and they understand that it's not about the flag,” Hopkins told TMZ.
Hopkins and many of his Texans teammates knelt during the national anthem Oct. 29 in Seattle in response to Texans team owner Bob McNair’s remark that "we can't have the inmates running the prison" during an NFL owners meeting about kneeling players, the Houston Chronicle reported.
"But, when a general person like [Trump] makes it look like, 'Alright, they're doing this because of the flag.' Then of course his followers are going to think the same,” Hopkins told TMZ. “But, that's not the case at all, you know?"