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Ron Rivera to stand during anthem, will support players who kneel

Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera intends to stand for the national anthem this season, but he has also pledged to support any player on the team who elects to kneel during the pregame ceremony.

Rivera cited his family’s history in the military as the overriding reason why he will stand during the anthem. The veteran head coach will kneel during the coin toss, however, to demonstrate his support for peaceful protests against systemic racism and police misconduct.

What’s more, Rivera intends to write the initials “J.L” on his hat in honor of late civil rights icon John Lewis.

“I’m not going to kneel, because my father served in the military,” Rivera said, via The Washington Post. “My brother was a first responder. My wife’s family was in the military. My dad had brothers that served in World War II. So, to me, standing at attention is what I’m going to do. That’s how I’m going to honor them.”

Rivera made it clear that his stance is for himself only, not the players on the team and throughout the NFL.

“I will respect your right,” Rivera said. “I will respect your First Amendment right. If that’s what you’re going to do during the national anthem, then so be it. But I will stand.”

Rivera has previously spoken out for the players’ right to kneel during the anthem. The longtime head coach expressed support for Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem going all the way back to the 2016 season, despite his personal feelings on the act.

Then in 2018 when Eric Reid signed with the Carolina Panthers, the then-Panthers head coach expressed no concern over whether the safety knelt during the anthem.

“The biggest reason it’s not an issue to me is because I believe in the First Amendment and that’s all he did was he exercised his First Amendment,” Rivera said at the time.

Given his history of supporting a player’s right to kneel during the anthem, it goes without saying that Washington Football Team players should know that their coach has their backs if they decide to do so.