New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees says Donald Trump has triggered the NFL anthem protests by backing black athletes into a corner.
Brees spoke to our sister station talkSPORT along with his teammate Cameron Jordan, who made headlines along with several other players by kneeling rather than standing for the pre-game national anthem last weekend - just hours after Trump had warned that any athlete who "disrespects our flag" faces dismissal.
Brees remainding standing during the anthem, and told Will he still feels that "if you are an American, you should stand and show respect to the flag."
However he added that Trump's attempt to stamp out the 'take a knee' protest, which originally arose to condemn police brutality towards black offenders, left black football players with no option but to act.
The protests, he said, are "a direct result of the comments of the President. Unfortunately I feel he put all athletes, all minority athletes, all black athletes, in a corner and forced them to take action. That was unfortunate that he made the comments that he made.
"I don't blame the guys for feeling like they needed to do something as a reaction to that."
Jordan told talkSPORT that, despite the protest, "we still pay homage to our flag, we still pay homage to our people. We still respect our troops.
"We still love everything about our country and it’s because we love our country we have the ability to take this knee, the ability to place our hand over our heart, ability to not only hum, murmur or sing the lyrics but take pride in every part of the national anthem.
"It only gives us more pride to say 'hey this is the day and age where I can show and demonstrate something and what’s on my mind and what’s on my heart'."
The Saints are currently in London for training ahead of their match with the Miami Dolphins at Wembley on Sunday (October 1).
LIsten to the audio above