New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently opened up about the NFL’s widespread national anthem statements.
As part of a lengthy and wide-ranging BBC piece published Wednesday, Kraft revealed what he said to his players following President Donald Trump’s explosive comments last month. More than a dozen Patriots players knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the team’s first game after Trump’s barbs.
“The greatest enemy in sport is division from within,” Kraft said, as transcribed by ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss. “I personally feel it’s very important to respect our flag and our anthem. 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. And 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 also gave his take on free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling before games last season as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
“I have never heard anyone talk about blocking (Kaepernick) or excluding him,” Kraft said.
Could he see a team signing Kaepernick?
“I would think that’s a possibility,” he said.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images