After 32 Broncos took a knee together last week before their game against Buffalo, the team now says it will stand for the national anthem before their game against the Oakland Raiders this weekend, capping an emotional week in the NFL.
- Sept. 25: Coach Backs Players Kneeling During Anthem
- Sept. 27: Red Miller Dies. Coached Broncos To 1st Super Bowl
- June 25: Survey Tells Us About Bronco Players' Politics
The Broncos protest was one of many around the league as hundreds of other players, coaches and owners kneeled during the national anthem. Their ire was directed at President Trump, who said NFL owners should fire players who don’t stand during the Star Spangled Banner.
The bended knee protest was started last season by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who wanted to draw attention to racial inequality, and the shooting of unarmed black men by police officers.
The protests have touched off a national debate. One the one side are fans supporting the players. On the other are those who find the protests offensive. We spoke with a cross section of folks in Denver to gauge their reactions. Here’s what they said:
Bob Chambly of Thornton, an Army veteran: "I served my country, and standing up for the national anthem is about the country, not about color. To me they’re disgracing me and my country."
Tara Foley of Colorado Springs: "Thinking that the NFL players are protesting the flag or the national anthem is like thinking that Rosa Parks was protesting public transportation. It’s not about the flag or the anthem; it’s about people's rights to protest – people’s civil rights."
Jim Leist of Denver, a firefighter and paramedic: "I understand they have a right to their freedom of expression, freedom of speech. But there’s a reason you have that freedom. So be respectful to the people that pay your bills and pay your salaries."
Angelo Cortesi of Denver, who said players were not even required to be on the field for the national anthem until 2009: "And the majority of people sitting at home aren’t doing anything at that point either. If they were all standing patriotic as well, this would make more of a valid argument."
Nicky Lore of Westminster: "I mean, I’m a die hard Bronco fan. I feel like they shouldn’t have brought the national anthem or the flag into this. I feel like it was more of Trump, and the NFL players (reacting to) what Trump said. But it’s not going to stop me from watching NFL, I’ll tell you that for sure."
Dan Andrykowski Jr. of Denver: "What I don’t like is people saying what happened with the protesters in Charlottesville is free speech. That’s not. To me that’s hate. This is peaceful, they're kneeling."
Sarah Walsh of Mack says players should follow rules just like she has to at her workplace: "I believe the football players and the media have completely missed the difference between the right of free speech and the responsibilities of an employee."
Michael Green is an African-American man who lives in Aurora, but is originally from the South. He originally supported Kaepernick’s protests over police brutality and racial inequality: "The man was just taking a knee for awareness, and now they took it all got carried away with all these protests and taking a knee. I don’t like the protests because they’re getting away from what it was truly for. They’re diverting away from the truth."