A day after Vice President Mike Pence left the Indianapolis Colts’ game due to the players on the opposing San Francisco 49ers team kneeling for the national anthem, the head of the NFL Players’ Association has come out and said no players in the league are disrespecting the flag.
The comments come after both Pence leaving the game and Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones saying he would bench any players who are “disrespectful to the flag.”
In a statement released Monday, NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith reminded league owners’ that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and management council John Mara had promised in front of NFL owners that “they would respect the Constitutional rights of our members without retribution.”
“No player is disrespecting our country or our flag. As thousands have shown in the past, it takes bravery and courage to speak and confront these issues as our players have, especially when it is unpopular with some,” Smith said.
Smith called for management to support players and speak out on issues, so “players do not have to risk the taunts and threats alone.”
“I look forward to the day when everyone in management can unite and truly embrace and articulate what the flag stands for, ‘Liberty and Justice for All,’ instead of some of them just talking about standing,” he said.
The 49ers were the first team on which players made a statement by taking a knee during the national anthem, with ex-quarterback Colin Kaepernick being the first to do so.
“If there is anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said. “You understand? If we are disrespecting the flag then we won’t play. Period.”
Jones’ statement comes just weeks after he, along with all Dallas Cowboys Personnel, took a knee in unison before the playing of the national anthem in a Monday night tilt against the Arizona Cardinals, then stood as a group when the song began.
President Trump said he told Mike Pence to leave the game if any players kneeled for the national anthem, saying he was “proud” of the vice president for doing so.
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