(CNN) - President Donald Trump renewed his criticism Sunday of NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem, slamming the league's ratings and saying players should be fired or suspended for such protests.
"If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!" he tweeted early Sunday.
The tweet came the morning after Trump took on two of the country's most popular sports leagues by withdrawing the White House invitation for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors and by calling for NFL owners to fire any "son of a (expletive)" who "disrespects our flag."
Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect.... — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
...our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
Players and league officials, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, took issue with Trump's remarks. Even singer Stevie Wonder had something to say, taking a knee at one of his concerts.
In response to Trump's remarks, NFL officials said Sunday that they plan to broadcast a message of unity.
The NFL is dusting off a one-minute ad that it produced for the Super Bowl earlier this year. It was originally made to "demonstrate the power of football to bring people together," the league said.
So the NFL is going to run the ad again on NBC's "Sunday Night Football" telecast on Sunday.
The decision was finalized on Sunday morning.
"We think this is the single best response to demonstrate what we are about," an NFL spokesman told CNN. "It stands in stark contrast to some who practice the politics of division."
The idea is to take the high road -- avoiding any direct reference to Trump -- by airing an inspirational message.
The ad was titled "Inside These Lines." It was created by the ad agency Translation for Super Bowl LI. Forest Whitaker was the narrator.
In the ad, Whitaker says:
"Inside these lines, we don't have to come from the same place to help each other reach the same destination.
Inside these lines, we may have our differences, but recognize there's more that unites us.
Inside these lines, it's a game of inches, and there's no such thing as an easy yard when you're fighting to move forward.
Inside these lines, we're not only defined by our victories, but by the way we handle our defeats.
Inside these lines, we can bring out the best in each other,
And live united--
Inside these lines."
Analysts predict even more protests as the NFL's Sunday games get underway with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens facing off in London this morning.
Here's who's taking a stand Sunday:
Six-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ Terrell Suggs was atop the list of Ravens players taking a knee before the game in London. Alongside him was retired Ravens legend Ray Lewis, who locked arms with wide receiver Mike Wallace and linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Other coaches and players locked arms during the anthem.
At least a dozen Jaguars took a knee during the anthem, including defensive standouts Calais Campbell and Jalen Ramsey, as well as their No. 4 draft pick, running back Leonard Fournette.
Other players locked arms, as did the coaching staff and Pakistani-American team owner Shad Khan.
Khan issued the following statement after the anthem:
"It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars today for the playing of the U.S. national anthem at Wembley Stadium. I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump and was honored to be arm in arm with them,their teammates and our coaches during our anthem. Our team and the National Football League reflects our nation, with diversity coming in many forms – race, faith, our views and our goals. We have a lot of work to do, and we can do it, but the comments by the President make it harder. That’s why it was important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation."
No players were kneeling during the playing of the British national anthem.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have decided to stay in their locker room for the national anthem before their game against the Chicago Bears, coach Mike Tomlin told CBS.
Other pro teams react
Officials with the Pittsburgh Penguins announced Sunday that the team had accepted an invitation from Trump to visit the White House after winning the Stanley Cup, adding that they respect the President and the tradition of visiting the White House after winning championships, as well as the rights of those who choose to exercise their rights however they choose.
The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.
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