NEW YORK — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell disagrees with Colin Kaepernick’s choice to kneel during the national anthem, but recognizes the quarterback’s right to protest.
Asked by The Associated Press about Kaepernick’s decision not to stand before games when the national anthem is played, Goodell said in an email Wednesday: “I don’t necessarily agree with what he is doing.”
“I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don’t live in a perfect society,” Goodell added. “On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that.”
Goodell added that NFL players having a visible platform for their viewpoints. With that comes responsibility to use those platforms properly.
“We have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great,” said Goodell, whose late father, Charles, was a U.S. senator.
“I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement; and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.”
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback wouldn’t stand for the anthem at the team’s preseason games, with teammate Eric Reid and Seattle’s Jeremy Lane doing the same. Kaepernick has cited racial injustice and police brutality among the many reasons for his actions and said he plans to continue to not stand for the anthem during the regular season.
Kaepernick said Wednesday on his Instagram account that he will donate all the money he receives from his jersey sales to charity to thank fans for their support. He said he’s pleased his 49ers jersey has become the top seller in the NFL since his protest became public.
The 49ers open their season at home against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night.
Also in reaction to Kaepernick’s actions:
— U.S. hockey coach John Tortorella said he’d bench any player who stays seated during the national anthem. Tortorella, who will coach the United States at the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, told ESPN : “If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game.”
— New York Jets receiver Brandon Marshall spoke out on WFAN Radio, saying he disagreed with host Boomer Esiason, who had criticized Kaepernick.
“The only thing I would love for everyone to really think about is: What does the American flag mean to them? When I look at the American flag, I see a bunch of fights — how much we have overcome,” Marshall said.
Marshall said he’d stand for the national anthem this weekend, but he didn’t criticize Kaepernick’s actions.