Former NFL player and current CNN contributor Donté Stallworth called the NFL’s new national anthem policy “compulsory patriotism” on “Reliable Sources” Sunday.
The policy requires NFL players to stand for the national anthem, remain in the locker room, or pay a fine. It was criticized by Stallworth as an attack on players “peacefully protesting” and “practicing dissent.”
“These players that are peacefully protesting, Brian, what they’re essentially doing is practicing dissent,” Stallworth told host Brian Stelter. “And we know that dissent is not supposed to make you feel comfortable. Protests are not supposed to make you feel comfortable.” (RELATED: The NFL Anthem Decision Is Not An Assault On Free Speech)
“Even when people were sitting in during the civil rights era, when they were sitting in restaurants peacefully protesting, that was uncomfortable to a lot of people,” Stallworth continued. “They were spat on they had food thrown on them and drinks poured on them, so I don’t think that we should take that out of context and not understand this compulsory patriotism that the president and the NFL is expecting these players to engage in.”
Stallworth is a former University of Tennessee star who played 10 seasons with the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, and several other teams. Since leaving the NFL, the former wide receiver has become a vocal champion of liberal causes and a frequent critic of President Trump.
Last October, Stallworth said the NFL protesters were also protesting the “gender pay gap.” (RELATED: CNN Contributor: NFL Kneeling Is Also About ‘Gender Pay Gap’ [VIDEO])