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Trump: NFL needs to change or its business will 'go to hell'

  • President Donald Trump says the NFL's business will "go to hell" if the league does not make changes.
  • The president has inflamed the national debate about players protesting racial inequality during the national anthem.
  • Trump recently said owners should "fire" a "son of a bitch" who protests during the anthem.

President Donald Trump put more pressure on the NFL on Wednesday, saying the league's business will "go to hell" if it does not change.

In recent seasons, professional football players have knelt during the national anthem to protest racial inequality in the United States. Trump blew open the national debate about the protests on Saturday when he urged owners to "fire" the "son of a bitch" who kneels during the anthem.

On Sunday, some players continued to kneel while some teams, along with their owners, linked arms in solidarity. Certain teams stayed in the locker room during the anthem.

President Donald Trump speaks to the media prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, September 27, 2017, as he travels to Indiana to unveil his tax reform plan.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks to the media prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, September 27, 2017, as he travels to Indiana to unveil his tax reform plan.

Trump has urged fans to stop watching the sport as long as the protests continue and called on the NFL to require players to stand during the anthem.

"In my opinion, the NFL has to change," Trump told reporters while leaving for a speech in Indiana. "Or you know what's going to happen? Their business is going to go to hell."

Trump claimed that the protests have cost the NFL viewers. However, a changing media landscape, shifting viewing habits and concerns about player safety caused a dip in NFL viewership well before Trump became involved in the anthem debate.