In President Trump's fight with the NFL over players kneeling in protest during the national anthem, it appears he may be on the verge of losing one of his most ardent supporters — Rush Limbaugh.
On Wednesday, the conservative talk radio icon and outspoken football fan said the idea that the government, as represented by Trump, could force any employee of a business to do something "scares the hell out of me," and said, "No president should have dictatorial power over individual behavior.
"I am very uncomfortable with the president of the United States being able to dictate the behavior and power of anybody," Limbaugh, whose syndicated show airs daily in Philadelphia on 1210 WPHT-AM, told his listeners. "That's not where this should be coming from."
"We don't want the president being able to demand anybody that he's unhappy with behave in a way he requires. That's scary to me, even if the president's somebody I happen to like," Limbaugh said.
Limbaugh told his listeners that he thinks Trump's motives are "pure," but said it's not the role of the president or the government to force their will onto a private business, even one as large as the NFL.
Limbaugh, a lifelong NFL fan, was forced to resign from his position on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown in 2003 after suggesting then-Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was getting more credit than his play deserved because the league was "very desirous that a black quarterback do well."
"It's sad that you've got to go to skin color. I thought we were through with that whole deal," McNabb told the Daily News after Limbaugh's comments.
Limbaugh's latest comments came after Trump once again tweeted about the NFL Wednesday morning. "It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY," Trump tweeted.
The NFL was quick to correct Trump, calling his comments "not accurate" ahead of a scheduled meeting to discuss the issues of protests with owners next week.
"Commentary this morning about the commissioner's position on the anthem is not accurate. As we said yesterday, there will be a discussion of these issues at the owners meeting next week," the NFL said in a statement.
According to a new poll released by Quinnipiac University, 52 percent of voters disapprove of players kneeling in protest during the national anthem. The opinion is starkly divided among racial lines: 62 percent of white people polled opposed the protests, while 79 percent of African Americans were in favor of the players' actions.