President Donald Trump appeared to minimize Dr. Anthony Fauci's warnings that professional football may be unable to restart this fall in a Friday tweet insisting that the NFL is "planning a very safe and controlled opening" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"Tony Fauci has nothing to do with NFL Football," the president wrote , referring to the nation's top infectious disease expert who is helping run the White House pandemic response. "They are planning a very safe and controlled opening."
Trump added that he "won't be watching" football if NFL players continue protesting racism by kneeling during the National Anthem.
"If they don't stand for our National Anthem and our Great American Flag, I won't be watching!!!" he wrote.
Fauci recently warned that the football season may not be able to begin in September unless the NFL is able to implement strong isolation and testing protocols.
"Unless players are essentially in a bubble insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall," Fauci told CNN. "If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year."
The National Basketball Association is scheduled to start its season in Orlando, Florida in late July under the so-called "bubble" protocol.
Professional football teams are already finding it difficult to abide by the current social distancing guidelines.
"I've seen all the memos on that, and to be quite honest with you, it's impossible what they're asking us to do. Humanly impossible," Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "So, we're going to do everything we can do. We're going to space, we're going to have masks. But, you know, it's a communication sport. We have to be able to communicate with each other in person. We have to practice."