Athletes have the right to kneel for national anthem

Greg Mandozzi, Staff Writer

Week three of the NFL season is usually the time of year where we see what teams are made of.

We notice who might be championship material. We get to see what teams are outshining expectations and what teams are rebuilding for the future.

But, this past weekend, we saw a lot more go on around the NFL.

Last summer, former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked a national debate as he took a knee during the national anthem before a preseason matchup in 2016.

Kaepernick continued to protest the ceremony in the following weeks, which many believe has led to his dismissal from the league.

President Donald Trump added fuel to the fire in a series of tweets posted Sept. 23 of this year.

“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do,” Trump tweeted.

After this tweet, during the first game from New England, several players on both teams took a knee during the anthem.

Even Jaguars owner Shad Khan was on the field linking arms with his players.

Shortly after, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin informed the media ahead of their tilt on Sunday that the entire team would remain in the locker room during the anthem.

The only Steeler to emerge to salute the flag was former U.S Army Captain, Alejandro Villanueva.

Villanueva stood from the tunnel with his hand on his chest. He alluded to his past service as the motive for him to come out and leave his teammates.

Various Miami Dolphins players wore t-shirts with “#IMWITHKAP” written on the chest, as they paid respect to the quarterback that brought this conversation to the table.

Multiple Denver Broncos Players kneeled, including Von Miller.

Trump’s speech against the NFL was an “assault on our most cherished right, freedom of speech,” Miller had said.

Even multiple players on the New England Patriots kneeled, while Tom Brady interlocked arms with a teammate. Many Philadelphia Eagles players were seen raising a fist as the anthem played.

Veteran running back LeSean McCoy even continued to warm up and stretch at the time the song was being sung.

The singer of the anthem ahead of the contest between the Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons, Rico Lavelle, ended the sacred song by kneeling as he finished.

It is clear that the NFL has responded to the President’s statements. The fact is, it is everyone’s right to protest how they please, and say what they want, so long as it is peaceful. Coaches, players and owners alike, stepped up to the plate, or more so, kneeled down in response to being told they didn’t have that right.

Every single player that kneels during the national anthem has that right. Who is anyone, including the President to say it is the right way or the wrong way to take a stand for what you believe in?

Whether you would ever kneel during the national anthem or not, I cannot tell anyone it is wrong. We each have the right to express ourselves in any way we wish.

That is one of the best things about this country.

To the people that say kneeling during the national anthem isn’t going to change anything, that may be true. But the fact of the matter is, it is getting us to talk.