WATCH: Trump Drops Racism Bombshell On NFL

The conflict between President Trump and national anthem-protesting NFL players is now dominating headlines. Trump’s detractors say his remarks against football players who kneel down during the national anthem is a question of race.

But as the Daily Caller noted, Trump hit back at his critics, saying the issue has “nothing to do with race.” For the president, his comments against kneeling NFL players is about “respect for our country and respect for our flag.”

Trump’s statement to reporters came soon after more than 200 NFL players from various teams knelt during the national anthem on Sunday. The protests were motivated by the president’s remarks that owners should fire players who disrespect the anthem, as reported by Christian News Alerts.

In one notable exception covered by Fox News, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Antonio Villanueva, a veteran who served three tours in Afghanistan, stood for the national anthem — even after his coach, Mike Tomlin, instructed all players to remain in the locker room during the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Tomlin expressed his dissatisfaction with Villanueva’s decision to ignore his order. “Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation, we were gonna be respectful of our football team.”

In his statement to the press, President Trump seemed to allude to Villanueva’s act of patriotism in which he described the player’s “great solidarity” for the flag. “I will say there was tremendous solidarity for our flag and for our country,” he said.

But one reporter who confronted Trump asked whether the president believes he is “inflaming racial tensions.” To this, Trump responded unequivocally that “race” is not an issue when it comes to showing respect for the flag.

“This has nothing to do with race,” Trump stated. “I never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag.”

The reporter wasn’t the first person to imply that there was a racial motive behind Trump’s condemnation of national anthem protesters. According to MSM, A’s rookie catcher, Bruce Maxwell, knelt during the national anthem at a game in Los Angeles Saturday. Prior to the game, Maxwell took to Instagram to post a scathing rebuke of Trump, accusing the president of advocating “division.”

Are these NFL players stepping out of line?

“Yeah, f- this guy!” wrote Maxwell. “Our president speaks of inequality of man because players are protesting the anthem! F- this man! Seriously on the highest platform for our country expressing that it is OK for there to be division of man and rights!” Maxwell is the first Major League Baseball player to kneel during the national anthem.

And as seen at CBS Sports, fans of the New England Patriots booed players who knelt during the anthem. Trump praised these fans on Twitter, writing “These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!”

Audience reactions indicate Trump’s stance resonates with a significant majority of the public. As covered by Christian News Alerts, the NFL’s week two ratings dropped by 24 percent over last year’s. Viewership is declining.