(AP Photo Brynn Anderson)
Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagilabue defended NFL players on Sunday, calling President Donald Trump’s comments on NFL players “insulting and disgraceful.”
Tagliabue, who was in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a guest of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson on Sunday, spoke to the media before Carolina’s game against the New Orleans Saints.
"For me to single out any particular group of players and call them SOB’s, to me, that is insulting and disgraceful,” Tagliabue said. “So I think the players deserve credit for what they do. And when it comes to speech they are entitled to speak. And we are entitled to listen. We are entitled to agree or disagree. But we’re not entitled to shut anybody’s speech down. Sometimes you don’t like what you hear and that is true in life in lots of contexts, but you can’t shut people down and be disgraceful when you are doing it.”
Richardson is not making a statement on the Trump’s remarks, per team spokesman Steven Drummond.
Tagliabue also addressed some of the issues current NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell is dealing with, saying he had similar issues when he was commissioner. In particular, he mentioned banning Dexter Manley from the league because of what he called "an addition problem."
"I talk to Dexter now and he thanks me for what happened," Tagliabue said. "As a consequence to being banned he came to grips with his problem and turned himself around. You are going to have those issues with any group of people and any segment of society. As I've said I think NFL players are mature and thoughtful and active in the community. I used to hear criticism that all players do is get big paychecks and play football. That's never been true. Now we are criticizing them for doing the opposite _ which is becoming active. We should be proud of them for being active and doing things that are constructive."