Transcript for President unapologetic after sparking feud with NFL
And we begin with president trump, his words about some players and the NFL, and the backlash, dividing fans. And leading to players and team owners, some of whom supported the president, to now break ranks with him on this issue. Teams across the country this weekend showing solidarity, so many locked arm in arm. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a friend of president trump, speaking out today, calling the president's remarks divisive. The steelers player who stood alone, his team in the locker room. But a short time ago, now apologizing, he says, for inadvertently making his team look bad. And as I mentioned, with so much at stake already, why did the president target this? ABC's senior white house correspondent Cecilia Vega leading us off. Reporter: Tonight, president trump defiant and unapologetic about sparking a national firestorm with these words. Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, get that son of a Off the field right now, out. He's fired. He's fired. Reporter: An administration source tells ABC news the president had every intention of mentioning the NFL before a packed house in Alabama, but he also went way beyond what was written in that speech, attacking players like former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during the national anthem, a silence protest against police brutality and racial injustice. If you see it, even if it's one player, leave the stadium. Reporter: The reaction instant. ??? O say can you see ??? Reporter: On football fields around the country, players united in protest, many kneeling, others linking arms, their owners and coaches joining them, too. From the raiders to the saints, players sat in silence. In Nashville, empty benches. Both teams, the titans and Seahawks, staying the locker room when the anthem played. But this image of steelers lineman Alejandro Villanueva going viral, too. The army vet who served three tours in Afghanistan emerging from the tunnel to place his hand over his heart, while his teammates stayed behind. Tonight, his Jersey selling more than any other player in the NFL. The president says, this is not about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country. Reporter: But tonight, even some of his own friends joining in the chorus of critics. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady among those linking arms, and now he is speaking out. I certainly disagree with, you know, what he said, and thought it was just divisive. Reporter: President trump's close friend, patriots owner Bob Kraft, says he is deeply disappointed with the president's tone. And former NFL coach Rex Ryan, a trump supporter, says he's furious. I'm pissed off, I'll be honest with you. You know, because I supported Donald Trump. But I'm reading these comments and it's appalling to me. Reporter: It all comes on the heels of those protests in SHAR votes charlottesville -- white supremacists marching with torches, the president saying there were "Very fine people" on both sides. Does the president believe that there are very fine people who kneeled yesterday watching those games, or are they all s.o.bs? I think you're trying to conflate different things here. Look, we certainly respect the rights that people have, but I think we also need to focus. This is about the president being for something, this is about the president being for respect in our country, through symbols like the American flag. Cecilia Vega with us live tonight at the white house. And Cecilia, the president tweeting about sports, about 20 times from our count, since Saturday. And today, the white house was asked, you know, with north Korea, health care, the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, why did the president choose to do this? Reporter: Well, David, the white house says the president is standing up for patriotism, plain and simple. I have to tell you, sources here are standing behind him. They say they believe most Americans will side with him on this one. David, the president is tweeting right now, again, saying that there has been tremendous backlash against the NFL. We've seen the division among fans and some players, as well, Cecilia. You told us about the steelers player, the army vet who came out to the field for the anthem. The rest of his team was inside. The locker room. Tonight, he seems to be apologizing to his team for just inadvertently making them feel bad? Reporter: Yeah, David, he's basically saying this was a mixup. He didn't mean to be accept rated from his team out there on the field. He is apologizing to the players, to the coach. He says he actually supports the protesters who are exercising their first amendment rights. We are hearing from that team's quarterback, David, he's speaking out, saying the anthem is never a time to protest. Cecilia Vega, thank you. Today was supposed to be the
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