Dale Earnhardt Jr. Explains His Anthem Controversy Tweet, Comments

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Nearly everyone these days has an opinion on kneeling during the national anthem. But Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants you to know that he can think for himself.

NASCAR team owners Richard Petty and Richard Childress made headlines Sunday by taking aggressive stances against protesting during the anthem. And although Earnhardt came out in defensive of those who wish to protest peacefully, many unfortunately take Petty and Childress’ comments as a reflection of how everyone in NASCAR thinks.

And that, quite frankly, doesn’t sit well with Earnhardt.

“I kept seeing a lot of negativity about NASCAR on social media,” the soon-to-be retired NASCAR driver said on his “Dale Jr. Download” podcast on Wednesday. “It’s just the same tired stigma that we’ve dealt with for many, many years. So, I didn’t feel like that Richard (Childress’) comments and Richard Petty’s comments were the way the entire sport felt. I think that Richard was talking for himself and through North Carolina law they have the right to do the things that they would do.

“They have the right to their opinion. I just didn’t want anyone speaking for me. I felt like that you could assume that those were my own personal feelings as well. I wanted to make that clear.”

Don’t let his support for peaceful protests fool you, though. Earnhardt doesn’t plan kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner” anytime soon.

“With that said, I stand for the flag during the national anthem, always have, always will,” the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. “We have an incredibly large military presence at our races. We go above and beyond to show our patriotism and what it means to be Americans and how proud we are of that and how proud we are of the flag and what it stands for.

” … But I also understand that the man next to me, if he wants to do something different, that’s his right. I might not agree with everything somebody does, but it’s their right to have that opportunity to do that. I can’t take that away from them, and I don’t want them taking it away from me.’”

Given all that was said during Week 3 in the NFL, it’s refreshing to hear someone say something that’s measured and well thought-out.

Still, try as Earnhardt might, certain stigmas about NASCAR likely never will go away.

Thumbnail photo via Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports Images

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