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NFL owners pan Trump’s attacks on players’ free speech

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As President Donald Trump began his Sunday by tweeting out attacks on the National Football League and its players for “disrespecting our Flag & Country [sic]” — his third consecutive day of such outbursts — criticism continued to come in not just from players but from team owners as well. And while Trump urged fans to boycott the league, even one of his closest friends denounced him for his tone.

Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, donated $1 million to help fund Trump’s inauguration and attended his wedding to Melania Trump. Trump has frequently name-dropped Kraft, tweeting previously that he is a “total winner,” “smart,” and his “friend.” But in a statement released Sunday morning, Kraft said he was “deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday,” while praising the “tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities,” by the league’s players. He added that he supports their “right to peaceably affect social change and raise awareness.”

Kraft is far from the only NFL owner/executive to denounce Trump’s smears.

Others include:

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank

Buffalo Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula

Detroit Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford

Green Bay Packers CEO Mark Murphy

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay

Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross

New York Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie

San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York

Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen

Tennessee Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk

Trump himself once owned the New Jersey Generals, a team in the now-defunct USFL football league, and has repeatedly retweeted suggestions that he would be a great NFL owner.  He also promised as a candidate that “nobody would fight harder for free speech than me.”

This post will be updated to include additional statements as they become available.

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