Football great Jim Brown says he will “never kneel” while the national anthem is being played — and he hopes current players follow his lead.
As Fox News reports, Brown was speaking before the HBO release of “Hard Knocks” Tuesday when he commented on the ongoing NFL player protest of refusing to stand for the anthem and “taking a knee” instead.
“I’ll never kneel and I will always respect the flag,” the Football Hall Of Fame member insisted.
“I am not going to denigrate my flag and I’m going to stand for the national anthem,” he said in the interview. “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.”
But though he disagrees with this form of protest, Brown says that doesn’t mean he can dictate how the players decide to demonstrate their grievances — even if that means not standing for the anthem.
“Well, if you take the bottom line, what are we talking about? 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 said.
Brown, now 82, was a civil rights leader in the sports world long before it became popular to be so and he has continued to speak out on the issues. When San Francisco player Colin Kaepernick first started to kneel in pre-game protests, Brown was quick to vocalize his disagreement.
“I’m going to give you the real deal: I’m an American,” Brown told ThePostGame. “I don’t desecrate my flag and my national anthem. I’m not gonna do anything against the flag and national anthem.”
He also had some words of advice for Kaepernick: “Colin has to make up his mind whether he’s truly an activist or he’s a football player,” Brown said. “Football is commercial. You have owners. You have fans. And you want to honor that if you’re making that kind of money….”