Since Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest police brutality in the 2016 season, his peers across the NFL, even whole teams, chose to kneel during the playing of the national anthem before their football games.
The #TakeAKnee is, at the least, controversial, as it forced Americans to take sides. Some thought the players had the right to express themselves freely, while others thought they were disrespecting the flag.
Those of the second camp have an ally in an NFL legend – and a strong proponent of Civil Rights – who feels that kneeling during the playing of the national anthem is a show of disrespect. Enter Jim Brown. The NFL Hall of Famer running back spoke recently in an interview at the premiere of “Hard Knocks.”
“I’ll never kneel and I will always respect the flag,” he said.
The protest observed by many of his colleagues has broadened from its original intent to speak out against police brutality; now, many see it as a form of protest against racial inequality. Brown feels that kneeling during the playing of the national anthem is not the place to protest those things.
“I am not going to denigrate my flag and I’m going to stand for the national anthem,” said Brown. “I’m fighting with all of my strength to make it a better country, but I don’t think that’s the issue. Because what is the top side? Are you not going to stand up? This is our country, man."
He noted that although he feels protesting by kneeling during the national anthem isn’t the best place to protest, he understands the need of others to express themselves as an individual.
“Well, if you take the bottom line, what are we talking about?“ Brown said. ”We’re talking about freedom to express one’s self, and if you don’t break any rules then you have that particular right."
He added, “I'm going to give you the real deal: I'm an American,” Brown said. “I don't desecrate my flag and my national anthem. I'm not gonna do anything against the flag and national anthem. I'm going to work within those situations. But this is my country, and I'll work out the problems, but I'll do it in an intelligent manner.”