But then the National Football League announced a new policy on Wednesday requiring all players to stand for the anthem and act in a respectful manner if they are on the field, essentially mandating that any protests happen behind closed doors, with teams potentially being fined if players didn't comply.
Meet Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, who won't allow himself to be bullied by the president.
"Obviously that statement right there to me is - I'll say it, to me, it's disgusting", Marshall said.
The policy contains six points, the first of which says players must "show respect for the flag and the anthem". "We've got freedom of speech, right?" A country born in dissent can handle a few protesters, however distasteful their displays of anger against the land of the free and the home of the courageous.
The players also rightfully have pointed out how many of their colleagues have done wonderful things to directly improve the lives of a countless number of people through their charitable works - including visiting with members of the USA military. "And the National Football League owners did the right thing if that's what they've done", he added. Everybody is not going to have the same opinion on things.
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I mean, it's clear that Kaepernick and others are just in it for the press they're receiving. "That is absurd, in my opinion".
One organization, the National Action Network, will march on league headquarters Friday to "advocate for players' right to kneel and call on NFL owners to reverse (the) unsafe decision violating players' First Amendment rights by imposing fines for not standing during the national anthem".
A college roommate of Colin Kaepernick while the pair played together at Nevada, Marshall was one of the first players to join Kaepernick in kneeling during the anthem to protest social injustice. The NFL Players Association, the union to which most players belong, said it was not consulted and issued a statement in opposition to the new rules.
The new anthem policy was so slapdash, so tone deaf, it makes me wonder if the good old boys in the NFL's ownership club were in a hurry to get back to sipping their single-malt scotch and counting stacks of cash.
Meanwhile, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said the wider question of how the league's new policy will play out is something "we're going to have to deal with".
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"They're just playing to their fan base", said Kerr, per the Mercury News. "Most people who believe that ignore the responses from the players and more importantly why men chose to protest". "Yeah, they can still pout in the locker room to their heart's content, but at least we proud Americans don't have to watch them disrespect our country on the field anymore". "Look at the National Football League, look at what we're doing.' And we understand that when you have some issues, we've asked you to look, now, so let's do as good as we can do". "I don't want to come down on them like a ton of bricks and I won't", Johnson told Newsday.
We fail to see how this is any different than what most Americans experience every day at their workplaces.
"I disagree with everyone on this table", she said.
But teammate Demario Davis had mixed emotions about the policy. "We want people to stand", Goodell said. "Nationalism is loving your country just to love it, you know, even when it's right or wrong, you're going to take the side of your country".
"History has taught us that both patriotism and protest are like water; if the force is strong enough it can not be suppressed", Smith wrote on Twitter.
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"The people who are speaking up for the people who are hurting have a deep love and devotion for our country. But it's important for people to understand that".