An opinion poll is not needed to state that most Americans agree with President Donald Trump that NFL players should be standing for the national anthem.

But the president should have used better judgment in taking on the issue. Using a vulgarity to refer to players choosing to kneel for the anthem as a form of protest was out of line. In offering his criticism at an Alabama political rally, Trump called unneeded attention to the minority of players protesting.

And he put players, coaches and even owners in the position of defending themselves as members of teams that in order to be winners must find ways to blend diverse views into cohesive units.

Sunday produced stands of solidarity by players in the face of the president's statement and his follow-up words on Twitter continuing criticism of the NFL. Unfortunately, players who would never have anything to do with protesting in an unpatriotic way were put in the position of making public stands of solidarity with their teams.

Count us among those who believe New Orleans Saints quarterback Dree Brees got it right in his actions and words before and after Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C.

Brees stood on the sideline for the anthem, his hand firmly over his heart while nearly a dozen teammates sat behind him on the bench in protest of Trump's remarks.

After the game, Brees summed up the situation by saying he doesn't agree with Trump's recent comments about NFL players, calling the statements "unbecoming of the office of the president of the United States." And he acknowledged there is inequality and racism in the United States -- which has been the stated reason behind protests by some players.

But Brees, a 17-year NFL veteran, said he doesn't believe sitting for the anthem to protest those concerns is appropriate.

"I will always feel that if you are an American, the national anthem is an opportunity for us all to stand up together, to be unified and show respect for our country and to show respect for what it stands for," Brees said.

Brees has previously stated that while he agreed with the reasoning of Colin Kaepernick -- who last year began protesting racial injustices by kneeling for the anthem -- he didn't believe in the method of that protest.

According to Associated Press reports, Brees on Sunday said there will always be issues in the country that must be dealt with and people should strive to make those things better.

"But if the protest becomes that we are going to sit down or kneel and not show respect to the United States of America and everything that it symbolizes, and everything that is stands for, and everything our country has been through to get to this point, I don't agree with that."

Brees then put his hand over his heart standing behind the podium.

"Looking at the flag with your hand over your heart is a unifying thing that should bring us all together and say, 'You know what, we know what things are not where they should be, but we will continue to work and strive to make things better and bring equality to all people.' ... I will always believe that we should be standing and showing respect to our flag with our hand over our heart."

Brees said he understands why his teammates are protesting and added they are "justified" in their reasons. He just doesn't agree with the method of that protest.

"I will never say it's OK to not show respect to the flag of the United States of America during the national anthem," Brees said. "That is the symbol of showing respect to our country. I won't. I don't think that that's OK because of all who have fought so hard and died and sacrificed so much for us to have the things we have, to have the freedoms that we have. The very freedom of the speech that we are talking about was born from that flag."

Perhaps Brees should consider a political career when he finishes with the NFL. He has the courage as a leader to take a stand while balancing his opinions with those of others.


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