There seems to be some confusion when it comes to the protests of NFL players during the national anthem before games.

There is even some false information being spread online. There are folks spreading a rumor that states the NFL rulebook outlines that all players must be present on the sideline and standing during the national anthem. No such rule exists and nothing in the NFL rulebook mentions anything about the national anthem.

There also seems to be a large group of people who believe that players kneeling during the song, or doing anything other than standing and holding their hands over their hearts, are showing disrespect to the military. This is not true. Countless times the players who protest during the national anthem have said they respect the troops, past and present, and their protests are aimed at injustices they feel are present in our country.

I’m frustrated by the hate people display for protesting players. I don’t see much uproar by those same people when nearly 80,000 people yell out the incorrect word at the end of the national anthem in Kansas City, when “brave” is replaced by “Chiefs!” How is changing the words solely to promote a sports team more respectful than a peaceful protest? It isn’t.

There was a definite uptick in protests this past Sunday following President Trump’s Twitter rant calling for a boycott of the NFL. It’s not amusing that Trump made it a point to say that there were “good people” involved in the Nazi and white supremacists rallies, but was outraged that NFL players would peacefully protest. It’s not hard to see what the difference is between these two instances, and Trump’s reaction speaks volumes to his core beliefs.

Protesting, speaking for what you believe in, is exactly what this country was founded on. This isn’t hyperbole – the United States of America was formed because colonists felt King George III treated them unfairly. They protested and they revolted. The result was a country many of us are proud to call our own.

By taking a knee, these players are being genuinely patriotic. America was built by questioning leaders and not allowing anyone to have absolute power.

You don’t have to agree with the players who are protesting, but you should respect their right to do it. They are exercising one of the fundamental beliefs this country was built on.

I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to grow up as a black person in this country. I am a white man that grew up in Kansas. I’ve never felt targeted by law enforcement or any other race. I never had ancestors who dealt with horrible things growing up.

I can’t, in any way, tell another group of people how they are supposed to feel. The only thing I can do, and what we all must do as a nation, is listen to what other people and groups have to say and try to make this country what we all should want it to be: a place where we are all able to have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The protesting players are taking their platform and trying to make things better in this country. They are trying to open a dialogue, trying to make the general public come face to face with a serious issue. That’s not disrespectful — it’s American.

Adam Gardner is the Globe managing and sports editor. He can be reached at

(1) comment


I agree completely. Thank you for stating truths instead of rumor. My dad, uncles and many more fought for all our freedoms. Freedom of speech for all!

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