Donald Trump Lashes out on Twitter After NFL Players Kneel: 'Stand Proudly or Be Suspended Without Pay'

The NFL is back, which means so are kneeling protests — as well as President Donald Trump's tweets about them. The 45th president of the United States took to Twitter Friday morning to complain about players who protested in some form during the national anthem before Thursday night's exhibition games.

"The NFL players are at it again - taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their 'outrage' at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love......" Trump tweeted.

He continued, ".....Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest. Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!"

Several players knelt, raised fists or simply refused to take the field during the playing of the national anthem in protest against police brutality. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback De'Vante Bausby raised their fists while defensive end Chris Long stood with his arm around Jenkins' shoulder. Jenkins had previously suspended his protest last December.

Defensive end Michael Bennett walked out of the tunnel during the anthem and walked toward the bench while it played.

The Jacksonville Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey, Telvin Smith, Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon did not join their teammates in skipping the pregame performance of the anthem.

Three members of the Seattle Seahawks squad declined to take the field during the anthem.

The Miami Dolphins' Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson knelt, while defensive end Robert Quinn raised his fist.

The protests come after the NFL sought to put the controversy behind it by instituting a new policy requiring athletes and staff to "stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem." But the policy, announced in May, was put on hold when the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to suspend enforcement of the new rules.

"Everybody is waiting for what the league is going to do," Jenkins said, according to the Associated Press. "We won't let it stop what we stand for."

"I think it's important to utilize the platform as we can because for whatever reason, we have framed this demonstration in a negative light, and often players have to defend why we feel the need to fight for everyday Americans, and in actuality we're doing the right thing," he said.

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President Trump has long condemned players who don't stand for the anthem, having called for fans to boycott NFL games unless teams did something to stop the protests in the past. In October 2017, Vice President Pence, a former governor of Indiana, attended an Indianapolis Colts game, only to promptly leave when players knelt during the anthem.

The protests began in 2016 when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the anthem to call attention to injustices faced by people of color.