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The Latest: NY congressman to athletes: We have your back

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

WASHINGTON (AP) The Latest on President Donald Trump's criticism of protesting athletes (all times local):

1:20 p.m.

Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York says he has a message for athletes and coaches in the wake of recent criticism from the president: "We have your back."

Jeffries, speaking from the House floor, says he finds it ironic that "the same group of people" who regularly refuse to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin for that nation's interference in the 2016 presidential election now criticize professional athletes for their protest actions.

Jeffries says, "How dare you lecture us about what's patriotic."

He says the African-America community has endured many atrocities in the nation's history, including a politic brutality epidemic. He says it's in that context that athletes such as Colin Kaepernick "kneel down so that others may have the courage to stand up."

Jeffries spoke as lawmakers began returning to Washington Monday.


1:20 p.m.

Wizards guard Bradley Beal called President Donald Trump a "clown" and said he's "not a leader" for his tweets about Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors and his comments about NFL players kneeling or sitting during the national anthem.

"You have guys who won a championship and they have the freedom of deciding whether or not they want to go (to the White House)," Beal said Monday at Wizards media day. "When one man decides not to go, how in the world can you just take an invite (away)? That doesn't make any sense to me. To me, you're a clown. That's unacceptable. That's not what a leader does."

Beal and teammate John Wall said Trump should be focused on more important issues, including the current situation in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.


1:20 p.m.

Memphis coach David Fizdale says yes, he'll absolutely take a knee if his Grizzlies decide to protest. The NBA coach in the city where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot also says anyone who thinks such protests disrespect the military should simply go through President Donald Trump's tweets.

Fizdale noted Trump's tweets about Sen. John McCain, transgender troops and the military, and criticism of a Gold Star family. Fizdale says Trump is putting American troops based in South Korea and Japan in danger by risking "instigating a war" with North Korea.

The Grizzlies coach says people need to take a look at who's really disrespecting the military and who's honoring the military by exercising their rights.


12:42 p.m.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says President Donald Trump should focus more on hurricane recovery and less on football players.

The Democrat told business leaders Monday that the Republican president's criticism of NFL players who protest during the national anthem is divisive. He said Trump should pay more attention to helping residents in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands still reeling from destructive hurricanes.

Following the storms Cuomo visited Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in a show of solidarity and to better understand how New York can help. The state is sending personnel and supplies such as drinking water and electric generators.

Cuomo has been mentioned as a possible White House contender in 2020. He's seeking a third term as governor next year.


12:17 p.m.

Sporting goods behemoth Nike is weighing in on NFL player protests of the national anthem and President Donald Trump's comments over the weekend.

The company says it "supports athletes and their right to freedom of expression on issues that are of great importance to our society."


12:01 p.m.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is at odds with President Donald Trump on the issue of player protests of the national anthem, calling Trump's comments "just divisive."

Brady tells Boston's WEEI-FM that he "certainly" disagrees with Trump's comment that NFL owners should fire any player who refuses to stand for the anthem.

Patriots locked arms with some teammates during the "Star-Spangled Banner" Sunday against the Texans while other players kneeled.

Brady has called Trump a "good friend" in the past and one of Trump's "Make America Great Again" hats was spotted in Brady's locker in 2015. Trump has often praised the quarterback on social media.

Brady skipped a White House visit with Trump in April when the team celebrated its fifth Super Bowl title.


11:40 a.m.

Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a prominent civil rights leader, says that President Donald Trump's comments about protesting NFL players were "beneath the dignity of the president."

Trump used profanity in referring to NFL players who don't stand during the national anthem.

Lewis says he couldn't believe what he heard during the president's campaign rally in his native state.

Lewis says Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., often said Americans have a right to protest for what is right.

Speaking outside the Capitol, Lewis also says Americans have a long history of protesting with peaceful, orderly and non-violent actions.


11:20 a.m.

NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart is firing back at President Donald Trump for attacking players who kneel during the national anthem. He says their protests against racial inequality and police brutality are "real locker room talk."

It was an apparent reference to Trump being caught on tape talking with "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women. Trump later dismissed his remarks made in the 2005 video, which emerged a month before the November election, as "locker room talk."

Many NFL players on Sunday locked arms with their teammates - some standing, others kneeling - in a show of solidarity. "Everyone should know, including the president, this is what real locker room talk is," Lockhart said Monday during a conference call.

He said: "We don't seek to get into political debates or relish being in the middle of it, but extraordinary statements from our clubs and owners demonstrate just how deeply we believe in our players and in our game."


7:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says his criticism of football players who kneel during the national anthem "has nothing to do with race."

The president says on Twitter on Monday that the issue is "about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!"

The president tweeted that many people "booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!"

He also points with pride to NASCAR supporters, writing, "They won't put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag - they said it loud and clear!"

About football 200 players decided to stand, kneel or raise their fists during the national anthem at NFL games on Sunday in response to Trump's calls for players to be fired.


5:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump has created drama over the last three days by criticizing activist athletes.

He's drawn criticism for saying football players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired.

The conflict peaked Sunday with Trump's remarks that had the effect of uniting a newly minted coalition including a growing number of players and coaches, as well as some owners who have backed the president.

Trump told reporters in New Jersey that kneeling was "very disrespectful to our flag and to our country" and "owners should do something."

Trump pushed back against the suggestion that his critique could inflame racial tensions, arguing: "I never said anything about race."

Updated September 25, 2017

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