Roger Goodell calls out Donald Trump for making 'divisive comments' about the NFL

It didn't take long for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to respond to the controversial comments that Donald Trump made about the NFL during a rally in Alabama on Friday

During what was supposed to be a stump speech for an Alabama senator running in a special election, Trump decided to go on a four-minute tirade where he implored NFL owners to start cutting any "son of a bitch" who kneels for the national anthem. The president also ripped the NFL for becoming too soft. 

Goodell responded to Trump by supporting the very players that the president blasted

"The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture," Goodell said in a statement. "There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we've experienced over the last month."

The NFL commissioner then went on to use some of the most forceful words that he's used during his 11 years in the league's top position. Goodell called out the president for making "divisive comments" and for disrespecting the NFL.  

"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," Goodell said. 

The NFL Players Association also responded to Trump's comments. Executive director DeMaurice Smith said that the players union "will never back down" when supporting a player's right to kneel during a game. 

"This union will never back down when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks," Smith said. 

If anything, Trump's comments might end up uniting the NFL on what has been a very divisive topic. Even Goodell wasn't thrilled with the protests when they started. Back in September 2016, the commissioner said that he wanted to see players "respect the flag."

However, by the time the 2017 season rolled around, Goodell seemed more open to the idea of the protest

"It's one of those things where we have to understand that there are people who have different viewpoints," Goodell said in August. "It's something that I think everybody wants."

By calling out the president, Goodell has made it clear that he stands behind the NFL's players whether he completely agrees with their stance or not, which might win him some new supporters in locker rooms around the league. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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