President Donald Trump said Friday that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem before games to protest racial injustice don't "have a real issue."
Trump, who has repeatedly criticized players who knelt during the anthem, said in an interview with Fox News' "Fox and Friends" that the players "are all saying it has nothing to do with the flag. The way we've been treated. Meantime they're making $15 million a year."
Multiple NFL players, including former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the Seattle Seahawks, have explained that they are protesting systematic racial inequality, specifically in the criminal justice system.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said in August 2016.
"We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms," Seattle Seahawks players said in a joint statement last year, after staying in the locker room during the national anthem.
Trump said Friday: "I'm all for the athletes. I think it is great. I love athletics, I love sports, but shouldn't get politics involved. When you're in a stadium, broadcast national -- you should be proud and have your hand up, do everything that is right and play really tough football. Once you leave the stadium, go do whatever you want to do. Run for office, do whatever."
The president added that he has yet to hear from any professional athletes about potential pardons.
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