Redskins running back Adrian Peterson intends to kneel during the National Anthem before games this fall to protest police brutality and head coach Ron Rivera says he will support that decision.
"I am supportive of our players, I want our players to understand that," Rivera said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
Rivera coached Eric Reid during his time in Carolina, an outspoken advocate in the fight against police brutality and an early ally of Colin Kaepernick. Before Rivera signed Reid, who knelt next to Kaepernick in 2016, the coach said that he read the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights to understand Reid's point of view and why that particular protest was so important.
"We should be supportive of people's rights, the right to free speech," Rivera said.
The tone around potential protests in 2020 comes in near stark contrast to the tone in 2016, when Kaepernick first took a knee during the National Anthem and ignited a national controversy.
Asked specifically if Redskins owner Dan Snyder had given him instructions on the protests, Rivera said the owner was on board with the coach's decision to support his players. Snyder also donated $250,000 towards the fight for racial inequality and the Redskins organization is setting up a series of town hall meetings for open dialogue on the protests that reignited after George Floyd's death in Minnesota.
Last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell apologized for not listening to players about the protests earlier and vowed to support peaceful protests.
After Peterson's comments last week it seems very clear that Redskins players will be protesting this fall. And after Rivera's comments, it's even more clear that the coach has his player's back.