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Trump Says N.F.L. Players Should Be Fired for Anthem Protests

Trump predicted that any owner who followed his advice would become “the most popular person in this country” — at least for a week.

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President Trump speaking Friday at a campaign rally in Huntsville, Ala.

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Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters..

Trump, who was in Alabama campaigning for Senator Luther Strange, also attributed a decline in N.F.L. ratings to the nation’s interest in “yours truly” as well as to what he described as a decline in violence in the game.

He said that players were being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and that it’s “not the same game.”

Over the past several seasons, the N.F.L. and college football have increased penalties and enforcement for illegal hits to the head and for hitting defenseless players. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers associated with playing football.

It’s also not the first time he’s raised the kneeling issue. Earlier this year he took credit for the fact that Kaepernick had not been signed.

Trump encouraged his supporters to pick up and leave the stadium next time they spot a player failing to stand.

“I guarantee things will stop,” he said.

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