Audio of an October 2017 meeting between NFL owners, executives, and player leaders obtained by The New York Times reveals the conflict the league's management faced as President Trump ramped up his criticism of the national anthem protests last fall. Despite a close relationship with the president, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told the room that Trump's commentary was "divisive" and "horrible." The players "sounded aggravated" on the topic of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who initiated kneeling during the national anthem, and how he remains unsigned. Some owners pushed back, with Houston Texans owner Bob McNair saying, "You fellas need to ask your compadres, fellas, stop that [kneeling] business."

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