Robert Kraft says Patriots players decided how to handle anthem
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a recent BBC interview that he gave players the choice on how to address the national anthem ahead of games.
Kraft, while evidently not intervening, nevertheless stated a belief it’s important to “respect our flag and our anthem.”
The Patriots, prior to a Sept. 24 victory over the Houston Texans, had 17 players kneel while several other players locked arms during the anthem. It appears from Kraft’s comments that he had minimal input beforehand, something that certainly isn’t the case with the Dallas Cowboys.
“The greatest enemy in sport is division from within. I personally feel it’s very important to respect our flag and our anthem,” Kraft said, as transcribed by ESPN. “But I also respect the right of people in this country to make statements or protests, peacefully, in a way that’s appropriate to them.
“I think there were some comments made about what our young men were doing that were a little inflammatory and inappropriate, and I thought I had to speak out. I spoke to the team and I told them that they were free to do what they thought was correct as long; I try to bring unity and bring things together, and part of that is respecting how other people think. Even if it’s genuine, even if it’s different than the way I speak; the way you build team and you build success is to let people be themselves.”
Kraft’s comments came in a long form piece on the ongoing saga of Colin Kaepernick, who controversially remains unemployed. The presumption by many is his place in NFL purgatory stems from inspiring anthem protests in the first place as well as his continued, outspoken political activism.
Whatever the nature of Kaepernick’s unemployment, Kraft denies hearing anything about the quarterback being blackballed.
“I have never heard anyone talk about blocking [Kaepernick] or excluding him,” Kraft said.
Further, Kraft was asked his thoughts on whether Kaepernick will find a job in the NFL at some point.
“I would think that’s a possibility,” Kraft said.