NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart made a not-so-subtle jab at President Trump during a conference call with reporters on Monday.
“Looking at yesterday, everyone should know, including the President, this is what real locker room talk is,” said Lockhart, who served as press secretary under President Clinton. “We don’t seek to get into political debates or relish being in the middle of it, but extraordinary statements from our clubs and owners demonstrate just how deeply we believe in our players and in our game.”
Trump told supporters at a rally in Alabama that NFL owners should fire any players who take part in protests during the national anthem, which began with then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last season. Kaepernick, whose protest was adopted by other players, said he knelt during the anthem to to call attention to racial inequality and police brutality.
“Get that son of a (expletive) off the field right now,” Trump said. “Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”
Several more NFL players took part in anthem protests Sunday in the wake of Trump’s comments, which were roundly condemned by players, coaches and team owners. Meanwhile, Trump continued to criticize the NFL on Twitter over the weekend.
Lockhart said there have been no discussions between the league and the White House in recent days.
“The President has chosen his form of dialog,” Lockhart said. “If the President wants to engage in something positive and productive, he knows our number.”
Trump also weighed in on rules meant to increase player safety in Friday’s speech.
“You hit too hard, 15 yards throw him out of the game,” Trump said. “They had that last week, I watched for a couple of minutes. Two guys, just a really beautiful tackle, boom, 15 yards. The referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she’s so proud.”
Lockhart said the league was irked by Trump’s comments.
“We fundamentally could not disagree more,” Lockhart said. “These remarks represent somebody who is out of touch and he does really great disservice by making them. . . . It’s an outdated and wrongheaded position.”
Asked if he thought Trump’s remarks were racially motivated, Lockhart responded: “Only he knows what’s in his heart.”