NFL Owner Says It’s ‘Dead Wrong’ to Call Kneeling Players Unpatriotic

TEPPER: ‘These are great young men. It just makes me so aggravated and angry…’

(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) The NFL’s newest team owner said accusing  players who kneel for the national anthem of being “unpatriotic” is “dead wrong.”

David Tepper, who just purchased the Carolina Panthers for $2.275 billion, defended Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who routinely kneel during the anthem in an interview Thursday, saying that what players do during the anthem is not indicative of their personal character.

Though he didn’t mention President Donald Trump by name, he criticized the rhetoric Trump has often used when speaking against kneeling.

“It’s the biggest pile of bull-dingy ever,” Tepper told CNBC’s Scott Wapner. “These are some of the most patriotic people and best people. These are great young men. It just makes me so aggravated and angry. OK? It’s just wrong. It’s just dead wrong.”

Tepper has vocally opposed Trump in the past, calling the president a “demented, narcissistic scumbag” last year.

“Trump masquerades as an angel of light, but he is the father of lies,” Tepper said.

Tepper said NFL critics should focus on what the players contribute to the community instead.

“I’m not criticizing anybody but we could do a better message saying how much people can do good in the community,” Tepper told CNBC. “That’s what I would want to see happen.”

Tepper said fans should focus on the message behind kneeling — “justice for all” — rather than on the act itself.

“Everybody is standing this season because I think people understand this,” he said. “It’s what you do in the community, it’s what you do out there. And we have a lot of good guys. The players are good guys, who do a lot of things out there.”

Trump attacked the NFL in August for its continued acceptance of kneeling during the national anthem.

“The NFL players are at it again — taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the national anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define,” Trump tweeted. “Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your national anthem or be suspended without pay!”