Trump praises NFL’s new national anthem policy

President Donald Trump, shown here in this April 10 file photo, was on board with the NFL's new policy on the national anthem.Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports (file photo)

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President Donald Trump said the NFL took a step in the right direction with its new policy that forbids kneeling during the national anthem.

NFL owners unanimously approved the policy on Wednesday that requires players and league personnel on the sideline to stand for the national anthem but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they desire.

The policy subjects teams to a fine if a player or any other personnel do not show respect for the anthem. Those clubs will also have the option to fine any team personnel for the infraction.

“I think that’s good,” Trump said in the interview with “Fox & Friends” that aired Thursday. “I don’t think people should be staying in the locker rooms, but still I think it’s good. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. Or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

Trump credited “the people” for bringing about change.

“This wasn’t me,” Trump said. “I brought it out. I think the people pushed it forward. You know, that’s something ideally could have been taken care of when it first started, it would have been a lot easier, but if they did that, they did the right thing.”

The anthem issue has been a divisive one, with some feeling players not standing for the song is disrespectful to, among others, the U.S. military. Others feel it is the players’ right to protest perceived social injustice peacefully.

The change in policy comes after some players elected against standing for the national anthem.

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the movement in 2016 to kneel during the national anthem as a protest to denounce police brutality against African-Americans, social injustice and racial inequality.

Kaepernick and former 49ers safety Eric Reid have both filed collusion cases against the league after failing to land jobs as free agents.

The anthem topic became a central issue for the NFL after Trump criticized the movement during a speech last September, stating players should be fired for not standing.

“We’re proud of our country. We respect our flag,” Trump said to loud applause at the campaign event in Alabama. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!'”