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No stranger to some good old-fashioned dog whistle racism, President Donald Trump revved up his feud with NFL players protesting the National Anthem during a Thursday morning interview, suggesting the league’s mostly white team owners are “afraid” of their predominantly black players.

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“I have so many friends that are owners, and they’re in a box,” Trump told Fox News. “I’ve spoken to a couple of them and they say, ‘We are in a situation where we have to do something.’ I think they’re afraid of their players, if you want to know the truth. And I think it’s disgraceful.”

He went on to say the NFL’s ratings are “way down” since the controversy began and called out Colin Kaepernick—who started the anti-police brutality protest before he was essentially blacklisted from the NFL—by name.

“When it comes to the respect of our nation, when it comes to the respect of our anthem and our flag, they have no choice,” Trump said. “The NFL cannot disrespect our country.”

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The president also said that even though millions of American citizens in Puerto Rico are still without the basic necessities they need to live after Hurricane Maria decimated the island, sparring with NFL players is definitely not a “distraction” from what’s really important.

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