'No Thanks!': Trump Criticizes American Football Players Taking a Knee on Thanksgiving Day

President Donald Trump criticized American football players on Thanksgiving Day for taking a knee during the national anthem before a game between the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions.

"No thanks!" the president tweeted in response to a video of quarterbacks Deshuan Watson of the Houston Texans and Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions taking a knee on Thursday afternoon.

Watson and Stafford were among players in the two teams that knelt before their Thanksgiving Day match in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

No thanks! https://t.co/IYQSotnMG9

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2020

National Football League (NFL) footage showed a number of players kneeling in protest of police brutality and systemic racism at the start of the season, but the protests have since wound down.

In September, Stafford explained that he started kneeling during the national anthem because it "just felt like it was the right thing at the time."

"Obviously it's been an amazing offseason just for our team, for a lot of people, something where there's been great opportunity for growth and learning and understanding," he told MLive, "and just felt like it was the right thing for me."

Since former 48ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the "taking a knee" movement in August 2016, Trump has repeatedly condemned the protests and called for crackdowns and suspensions on players who refuse to stop. The president and other conservatives view the protests as disrespectful to the American flag.

"You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there. Maybe you shouldn't be in the country," Trump said during his 2016 campaign.

NFL head Roger Goodell apologized in June for failing to listen to protesters after George Floyd's death in police custody renewed the significance of the Black Lives Matter movement. "We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people," Goodell said in a video message. "We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest."

"We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter. I personally protest with you, and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country."

Trump immediately condemned Goodell for allegedly allowing players to disrespect America. "Could it be even remotely possible," he tweeted at the time, "that in Roger Goodell's rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?"

Newsweek reached out to the White House for further comment.

Trump and Melania
First lady Melania Trump looks on as U.S. President Donald Trump gives the National Thanksgiving Turkey "Corn" a presidential pardon in the Rose Garden of the White House November 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty