President Trump said he thinks former San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick would have changed his behavior if he had been suspended a game last season for kneeling during the national anthem
"I watched Colin Kaepernick and I thought it was terrible. And then it got bigger and bigger and started mushrooming," Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in an interview that will air Wednesday night.
"Frankly the NFL should have suspended him for one game and he would have never done it again," he said.
"But I will tell you -- you cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem, you cannot do that," he added.
A number of players have since followed Kaepernick's lead, taking a knee starting last season during the national anthem to protest the treatment of African American and minorities in the U.S. and police brutality.
The debate was reignited when Trump said during a rally in October that football players who took a knee during the national anthem should be fired.
Kaepernick currently does not play for any team in the NFL and is a free agent.