NFL players can have the 'First Amendment off the field': Treasury chief Mnuchin says

PHOTO: San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold (58), quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and free safety Eric Reid (35) kneel in protest during the playing of the national anthem in Santa Clara, Calif., Oct 6, 2016. PlayKirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports, File
WATCH Treasury Secretary: NFL players can have First Amendment rights 'off the field'

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended President Donald Trump's comments calling for NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to be fired, saying, players "have the right to have the First Amendment off the field."

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“This isn’t about Democrats. It's not about Republicans. It's not about race; it’s not about free speech. They can do free speech on their own time," the treasury secretary said in an interview with ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz on "This Week" Sunday. "This is about respect for the military and first responders and the country."

"They have the right to have the First Amendment off the field," he added.

Mnuchin said NFL team owners and league administrators should create and enforce rules to have players stand for the anthem.

“The NFL has all different types of rules. You can’t have stickers on your helmet; you have to have your jersey tucked in,” Mnuchin said. “I think what the president is saying is that the owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem.”

Mnuchin also accused the NFL of "picking and choosing" rules they want to enforce.

"This is a job. And the employers have the right, when the players are working, to have rules. So, you know, why didn't they wear stickers? Why didn't the Dallas Cowboys, why were they allowed to wear stickers in response to people they wanted to pay respect to? " Mnuchin said. "So, the NFL is picking and choosing what they want to enforce."