Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera will not be kneeling during the national anthem, he told The Athletic on Monday.
Rivera, who earlier this offseason expressed support for any of his players who decide to kneel, said he may take a knee during the coin toss to show his support of Black Lives Matter. But his decision to stand during the national anthem is tied to honoring family who have served.
"I’m not gonna kneel because my father served in the military," Rivera said. "My brother was a first responder. My wife’s family was in the military. My dad had brothers that served in World War II. So to me, standing at attention is what I’m going to do. That’s how I’m going to honor them. I might kneel during the coin toss because I do support Black Lives Matter. I do support the movement to help correct the policing."
In reiterating his support for players who decide to kneel, Rivera cited their rights to do so under the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which gives people the freedom of speech and right to peaceably assemble.
"Let’s go back to our Constitution, to our Bill of Rights, the amendment," Rivera said. "Let’s go back to the oath of office to serve and protect. Part of the Constitution is the First Amendment. There’s a lot of people out there that support the Second Amendment vehemently. Well, if you support the Second Amendment vehemently, why wouldn’t you support the first one, which is freedom of expression, freedom of speech? And that’s all that is. That’s an extension of one of our unalienable rights, one of our God-given rights, one of the things written into the Constitution. So, again, let’s at least applaud that. Let’s celebrate that as well."
In June, following the death of George Floyd, Washington running back Adrian Peterson said he "without a doubt" would be kneeling during the national anthem this fall to protest police brutality. He said other players would too: "We're all getting ready to take a knee together."
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