A day after president Donald Trump called for NFL owners to fire players who protest during the national anthem, two NFL owners—John Mara and Steve Tisch of the New York Giants—have said they disagree with the president's sentiment.
"Comments like we heard last night from the president are inappropriate, offensive and divisive," Mara and Tisch said through a team spokesman. "We are proud of our players, the vast majority of whom use their NFL platform to make a positive difference in our society."
Mara and Tisch are the first NFL owners to respond to the president's comments, which he made at a campaign rally for senator Luther Strange in Alabama.
"When the NFL ratings are down massively, massively," the president said. "The NFL ratings are down massively. Now the number one reason happens to be they like watching what's happening...with yours truly. They like what's happening. Because you know today if you hit too hard—15 yards! Throw him out of the game! They had that last week. I watched for a couple of minutes. Two guys, just really beautiful tackle. Boom, 15 yards! The referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she's so proud of him. They're ruining the game...They want to hit! It's ruining the game."
Trump's full comments can be seen below.
On Saturday, Trump elaborated on his comments made at the rally.
A number of NFL owners have supported Trump in the past. A total of eight owners donated more than $7 million combined to his inauguration—Robert Kraft, whom owns the Patriots, donated $1 million, as did Jets owner Woody Johnson, whom Trump named ambassador to the United Kingdom.