The president's comments spurred a national conversation about patriotism and the nation's symbols and the use of peaceful protest. "You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, and the NFL owners did the right thing if that's what they've done".
Players began kneeling during the Stars and Stripes during 2016 in protest at police brutality and racial inequality.
"You shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there. maybe you shouldn't be in the country", Trump said of those National Football League players who last season knelt during the anthem to protest cases of police brutality against minorities.
Donald Trump fully supports the new NFL policy on the national anthem - he says players who don't stand should maybe "not be in the country".
The new rule dictates that fines will be issued for any players who kneel.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday that all players and NFL team personnel "shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem" during the upcoming season. Without full funding, Trump said, he will not sign off on any legislation aimed at preserving the Obama-era DACA program, which provided temporary legal status to thousands of people brought to the country illegally as minors.
Bears coach Matt Nagy said after practice Wednesday that the team will discuss the issue as a group at some point in the future. Trump said on Monday.
Though Trump did not like that people had the option of staying in the locker room, he was generally in favor of the new policy.
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In an interview with Fox and Friends on Thursday, Trump said the "NFL owners did the right thing".
"If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organisation, by me, not the players".
He added: "I don't want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won't".
"This is fear of a diminished bottom line", wrote Chris Long. It's also fear of a president turning his base against a corporation.
Trump praised the league's decision - with a caveat.
Both are Republicans, although it's unclear whether their objections to the kneeling are rooted in their "partisan political affiliation", given that Mr. Kaepernick hasn't framed his protest as anti-Republican and isn't known as a member of the Democratic Party or any other political party.
Media captionWatch: The history of anthem protests in the US.