President Trump's Super Bowl Sunday Message: 'We Proudly Stand for the National Anthem'

President Donald Trump invoked the National Anthem protest controversy in a tribute to U.S. Armed Forces before Sunday's Super Bowl LII.

"As many Americans come together to watch the Super Bowl, Melania and I extend our greetings and appreciation for those who make occasions like this possible, particularly the brave men and women of our Armed Forces," the statement reads.

"Though many of our Nation's service members are unable to be home with family and friends to enjoy this evening's American tradition, they are always in our thoughts and prayers," Trump continued. "We owe these heroes the greatest respect for defending out liberty and our American way of life. Their sacrifice is stitched into each star and every stripe of our Star-Spangled Banner. We hold them in our hearts and thank them for our freedom as we proudly stand for the National Anthem."

The statement concluded, "We send our best wishes for an enjoyable Super Bowl Sunday. May God bless and protect our troops, and may He continue to bless the United States of America."

Last fall, the president suggested NFL team owners should fire players who do not stand for the National Anthem. The protest started during the 2016 season, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel to protest racial inequality.

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The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots play for the NFL championship starting at 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday.

During the season, no Eagles players knelt during the National Anthem, according to a study by Sports Pundit. Meanwhile, the Patriots had 17 incidents of anthem sitting or kneeling, the study said.