Football players react to anthem protests

By Tom Burton

Players in the NFL are taking their disagreements to the field as some players have not been supporting the national anthem before games, whether it’s choosing not to stand or avoiding being present all together for the honoring of our country.

The controversy arguably arose when free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to sit during the anthem last season out of his discontent with the government.

NIU football players shared their thoughts on the actions from these NFL players and if they support the form of protest.

The rest of the league is following the actions of Kaepernick this season, but at a higher level, with players and teams choosing to kneel or stay in the locker room during the anthem last season.


Spencer Tears, redshirt sophomore wide receiver

I feel like [the protestors] live in the [United States] just like everyone else, and they have the freedom of speech rights and the freedom to do what they please. If people are not agreeing with what is going on or the things that are going on, I don’t see a problem with taking a knee. That’s no disrespect to the people that fought for us [and the flag]. It’s just a matter of [them] having respect for [themselves] and having respect for what [they] believe in.


Redshirt sophomore quarterback Daniel Santacaterina

It’s crazy what has been going on. I think Trump has been ridiculous with his latest comments [not being] presidential, and I personally wouldn’t take a knee. That is my thought [on the matter], but I understand [the actions] of those who are going that route. If it was a teammate of mine who did that, I would be behind them 100 percent. It’s up to the individual and everyone backs each other [on this team]. It’s not protesting the national anthem; it’s protesting different things, so it’s a tough concept. I can see how some people would think it’s disrespectful. [The protestors] have a platform, and they are using it.


Senior centerback Shawun Lurry

To me, some of [the protests] are good and some are not good. You still need to show respect to the [veterans] because those are the people who fought for [the country]. I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing in [standing for the Anthem]. I don’t have [a say] in what [the protesters are doing]; it is what it is. It’s a good form [of protest], but [players should] show respect for the people who fought in the war [because] they put their lives on the line for us. [The players should] just go out there and stand up and [handle their frustrations] after the game and show what [they] are concerned about. [The players should] show [respect to] the people who fought in the war, that’s it.


Max Scharping, redshirt junior offensive lineman

[The situation] is different for every person. Every person has their own views and reasons for doing stuff. I [probably] have a different opinion than most of my teammates or people in the [NFL]. It’s a very personal thing, and I think it’s the fact that some of the teams stood by each other – I thought that was a really cool thing to see. They were one united front and that speaks volumes. I think it’s fine they are protesting [in that way] because it’s peaceful and no one is getting hurt by it. Some people [could] get offended by that and I get it; you’re not going to be able to please [everyone] in life. They’re not really doing anything wrong; they’re just trying to stand up for what they believe in by taking a knee during the Anthem. I don’t take offense to it because [the protesters] are just doing what they believe in.


Redshirt sophomore linebacker Kyle Pugh

I think it’s pretty cool to see athletes using their platform to peacefully protest and send a message to our nation. I really respect what they are doing, and I wish people would be more open-minded to what they are really protesting. I feel like [they’re not protesting] the meaning of the flag; they’re just using the only platform they have to get the message out. I highly doubt that anybody taking part in the protest has any disrespect towards the flag or what it means. As a nation, we greatly respect our veterans and how the country became [unified as one].