A political action committee that supports President Trump began an advertising campaign on social media Sunday that encourages NFL fans to turn off games and watch a patriotic movie instead, according to a source close to the committee.
America First Policies, formed by former Trump campaign operatives earlier this year, is seeking to boost Trump's criticism of the NFL and its players this weekend. In its initial social media graphic, it used the hashtag #TakeAStandNotAKnee. The words "Turn off the NFL" are next to a photograph of Trump with his hand over his heart, an American flag in the background.
The ads will be targeted at NFL fans who expressed interest in voting for Trump in the campaign.
Trump said Friday night that he hoped owners would fire any player who "disrespects our flag" by kneeling or otherwise lodging a protest during the singing of 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 bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired! He's fired!'" Trump said at a rally in Alabama.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell responded by expressing disappointment over Trump's "unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL," and most owners responded with similar statements over the weekend. On Sunday, dozens of players knelt in apparent response to Trump's message.
Goodell said in a tweet that the league will re-air a unity television advertisement Sunday night that it first ran during February's Super Bowl.?
Over images and video of NFL players embracing one another on the field, the narrator says "Inside these lines, we don't have to come from the same place to help each other reach the same destination."
The visuals depict a crew preparing the field for a game, followed by images of players and fans overcoming differences and banding together -- all "Inside These Lines." The spot is accompanied by an original interpretation of Lonnie Liston Smith's "Garden of Peace" by Jon Batiste.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.