President Trump slammed free agent Colin Kaepernick's employment status at a rally in Kentucky on Tuesday, saying NFL owners may not want to sign the ex-San Francisco 49er quarterback because they do not want a "nasty tweet" from the president for signing a player who refused to stand during the national anthem.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked on ESPN's "Mike & Mike" show about Trump's comment and said Trump is entitled to his views and is fine with it.
"That's a comment that he's going to make and that's fine," he said.
However, the commissioner went on to explain that teams would evaluate free agents such as Kaepernick for their on-field abilities and not necessarily their political views.
"Our teams are out there working hard to figure out how they can improve each of their clubs. They're making the best decisions they can.
"And they're going to do what they can to improve their teams and win. That's what they want to do for the fans. So that's what they're focused on and that's what we're focused on. Everyone's going to make other comments, and obviously we're respectful of those comments, particularly from the president," he said.
The commissioner was unsure when asked if comments from influential non-sports figures might dissuade teams from signing players. But he had no doubt that every team was looking for a competitive edge.
"I can't speculate on that," he said. "The 32 owners, I think their major focus is on winning and whatever it takes to win and they think reflects well on their team, that's what they're going to do."
Kaepernick, 29, became a free agent earlier in the month after a six-year stint in San Francisco which included a 2012 NFC title and Super Bowl appearance. He drew particular attention last season for not standing for the national anthem, although he did indicate this season he would stand.