President Trump speaks out on new NFL national anthem policy, calls it 'stupid' and 'worse'

There are many who believe the NFL's creation of a formal national anthem policy, which requires players on the field to stand during the singing of the national anthem but allows for players who do not want to stand to remain in the locker room during the anthem, was designed to avoid criticism from President Donald Trump, who, rather notably, spoke out against players taking a knee during the 2017 season.

If that was the goal, it has already fallen short. Trump, appearing at a rally in Michigan on Thursday night, went off on a tangent about the NFL's policy and the NFL in general, calling it "stupid" and claiming the policy is "worse" than what the league had before. 

"How about the NFL? Look, I don't want to cause controversy. USA is right -- I don't want to cause controversy," Trump said. "But how about they pass this stupid thing -- 'You don't have to do this anymore. If you don't respect the flag, or you don't like the country or whatever it is, just go into the locker room.' I think in many respects that's worse. Isn't that worse than not standing? I think that's worse. So they say 'Go into the locker room' and the anthem is getting ready to play, they run into the locker room then they come back out.

"You know what? It doesn't play. I actually think in many ways it's worse."

President Trump then claimed he heard owners were "so happy" about the policy before criticizing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for falling ratings which, Trump said, are caused by the public's interest in politics and that venue being a "tougher" sport than football.

"I heard this thing that they were so happy -- the owners. This commissioner, where this guy comes from I don't know. They're paying him $40 million a year and their ratings are down 20 percent," Trump continued. "But you know why their ratings are down? Yes, the flag. But they're also down because people find politics -- in other words, hitting Trump, incorrectly, but hitting Trump -- they find that to be much tougher, meaner and more interesting than watching a football game. They really do.

"And they're watching the cable networks instead of watching football."

Trump has been pretty consistent in his criticism of the NFL, even if the tone of his rhetoric has varied in terms of its aggressiveness. He originally called NFL players who weren't standing during the anthem "sons of b----es" and said NFL teams should cut anyone who didn't stand.

He followed up with his criticism this year by saying "maybe [people who don't stand] shouldn't be in the country."

The league is clearly shook up by the public criticism from the highest office in the land; the NFL seems less fazed by the criticism from players and the union over the new anthem policy.

NFL owners reportedly did not hold a formal vote on the new anthem policy and 49ers owner Jed York flatly admitted he abstained from voting on the matter.

The anthem continues to be a lightning rod for controversy, and it is clear by the President's statements he does not see the new anthem policy as a viable way to avoid a continued public discussion of the matter.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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