The mother of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was one of the many to take to Twitter to respond to President Trump’s criticism of NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a (expletive) off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump said at a rally in Alabama Friday night.
Although Trump didn’t actually name Kaepernick, it seemed pretty clear who his words were directed at considering he was the one who first gained notoriety last year for protesting the national anthem. And Kaepernick’s mom, Teresa Kaepernick, was quick to respond: “Guess that makes me a proud bitch!”
Kaepernick’s parents had already made it clear they were “proud” of their son “and admire his strength and courage in kneeling for the rights of others.”
Trump’s criticism of the protesting players also faced resistance from the NFL leadership and other football players. “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. Although the statement was presented as a response to Trump’s comments, Goodell never actually mentioned the president or what he said in his statement.
The union representing NFL players was much more direct in its criticism of the president. “We will never back down,” DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, wrote on Twitter Saturday morning. “We no longer can afford to stick to sports.”
Several NFL players also criticized Trump’s words. “It’s really sad man … our president is a asshole,” wrote Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy.
Eric Ebron, a tight end for the Detroit Lions, wondered: “Does anyone tell trump to stick to politics, like they tell us to stick to sports?”
The linebacker for the Washington NFL team also called on Trump to stay out of football: “Trump stay in ur place… football have nothing to do wit u.”
Minnesota Vikings running back Bishop Sankey, meanwhile, took the longer view and didn’t even mention football, focusing on how the commander in chief somehow thinks it’s fine to insult fellow citizens.* “It’s a shame and disgrace when you have the President of the US calling citizens of the country sons of a bitches,” he wrote.
Despite all the criticism, Trump doubled down on Saturday, using Twitter to repeat the same message he had espoused during Friday’s campaign rally: “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
*Correction, Sept. 25, 2017: This post originally misspelled the team name of the Minnesota Vikings.