The NFL should have suspended former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick when he began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, President Donald Trump said in an interview set to air on Fox News Channel Wednesday night.
"I watched Colin Kaepernick and I thought it was terrible," Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity, according to a report at The Hill. "And then it got bigger and bigger and started mushrooming. And frankly the NFL should have suspended him for one game and he would have never done it again."
Kaepernick eventually opted out of his contract with the 49ers in the offseason and has yet to be signed by another team. But other players across the league joined his protests this season.
That didn't sit well with Trump, who told a crowd in Alabama in September that team owners should fire anyone who refuses to stand.
But that comment caused even more players to unite, with some team owners joining them the following Sunday.
All that could have been avoided had Kaepernick been suspended from the get-go, Trump told Hannity.
"They could have then suspended him for two games and they could have suspended him again if he did it a third time, for the season, and you would never have had a problem," he said. "But I will tell you — you cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem, you cannot do that."
Players say they are not protesting the flag or the military, but racial injustice.
And while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said this week that all players should stand at this weekend's games, the league said that is not an order to players.
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