Rivera on protests: 'The world is about compromise and about respect'


ASHBURN -- As the NFL gears up to open the 2020 season plans for social media protests during the national anthem continue to emerge. 

In Washington, head coach Ron Rivera plans to meet with his players on Friday to discuss social justice protests but the coach does know that any decision must accept all outlooks. 

"The biggest thing that I just said to them, I said, ‘This has to be about respecting each other’s choice of what to do.’ I think that’s the most important thing," Rivera said Thursday. 

Washington made a commitment to social justice this offseason after the murder of George Floyd in May, and the team cancelled practices last month after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. Rivera has been vocal in his support of the Black Lives Matter movement, yet also balanced with his support of the military. 

"It’s funny because people say, ‘Oh, you should all kneel together.’ Or, ‘You shouldn’t kneel because it doesn’t show team unity.’ Well, I think that’s wrong," Rivera said. "I think if half your team kneels and half your team stands and everybody respects that, that’s team unity."

What Washington decides won't be seen until Sunday at 1 p.m., but the first impacts of social justice protests will likely be seen during the NFL opener on Thursday night between Kansas City and Houston. 

For Rivera, the right approach comes from mutual respect and understanding of the U.S. Constitution. 


"I am mature enough to respect your right as an American—the First Amendment—to kneel and you respect my right to stand. That’s the important thing that I think we have to get out is that some people have this thought that this is what you should do and some people have this thought that you should do. Well, guess what? The world is about compromise and about respect. If you don’t respect the person’s right, then you’re not respecting the First Amendment. That’s the way I approach it.”