Bill Belichick Issues Statement After Patriots Players Protested During National Anthem

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FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick issued the following statement after 18 of his team’s players knelt during the national anthem Sunday.

?I have immense respect and admiration for our players, for how they conduct themselves professionally as New England Patriots and for how they represent themselves, their families and community as men,” Belichick said. “I have coached football for over four decades and one of the greatest things about being in this environment is the diversity of people, backgrounds, viewpoints and relationships we are fortunate to experience. As with any large group of people, there is a variety of perspectives and opinions on many topics. Discussions occur between myself, individual players, groups and the entire team on an ongoing basis. They concern the team and other issues surrounding the team. I am going to keep the specifics of those conversations private. I will do what I feel is best for the team in my role as head coach and collectively, we will work together to find the best way to proceed.?

Belichick didn’t directly address President Donald Trump’s comments, which incited the protests. Trump referred to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as a “son of a bitch.” Trump read a letter written by Belichick during his presidential campaign on the eve of the election during a rally in New Hampshire. Belichick said days later during a news conference his letter was not politically motivated.

Belichick also didn’t directly address his players’ decision to kneel during the national anthem. Belichick’s father, Steve, served in the Navy and coached and scouted at the academy for over 30 years.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft released a statement Sunday morning, saying he was “deeply disappointed by the tone of (Trump’s) comments.”

Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images

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