NFL players have been protesting during their games’ National Anthem for over a year now, but the issue really grew legs after President Trump’s S.O.B. story last week.  During a speech in Alabama, the President referred to those players who do not stand during the anthem, as “Sons of B------“.  He then said they should all be fired.  And that’s when the firestorm erupted into this past weekend’s demonstrations.

I’ve rarely entered the world of expressing my opinion on political events, in my sports forum on this website, or in my 31-year career with WTSP-TV Sports. It’s time. As it should be for all of you if you haven’t already.

My first reaction was, our President… THE leader of the free world… the man who many would say is the moral compass of America.. called a group of Americans “Sons of B------“.  Really?  The man who I thought was above the fray, the leader of a nation who is supposed to deliver a calm, measured response to any kind of conflict, resorted to schoolyard vulgarity in describing professional athletes?  I know President Trump was elected by Americans who wanted a change in Washington, a fresh approach from partisan politics.. but “Sons of B------“.. Really?

Now, let me make this point clear about the pro athletes who are kneeling during our National Anthem.  I would never do that.  I don’t think that is the proper approach to this issue.  I always believed that you rise, remove your cap, and join in singing our National Anthem, in respect to our flag and the men and women who fought, and died, to protect our freedoms.

But, if you listen to the athletes who are protesting by kneeling during the anthem, they are not disagreeing with you or me on that issue.  They love America, for the most part.  They respect the military.  They are protesting the racial injustice facing African-Americans in this country, including police brutality toward minorities.  And they are doing it in a peaceful, but sincere, manner… which is what freedom in American is all about… to express your opinion in a calm but passionate, and non-violent way.

And they want to show they are unified on this matter.  The NFL Commissioner, several NFL teams, have come out publicly this weekend agreeing with this stance. Yet, our President thinks the NFL owners should suspend or fire them.  

Our country is divided.  Perhaps our President is doing his best to bring America together again… together in opposition to his beliefs. What do you think?

Read more by Dave Wirth on our Sports Page where he covers local sports teams, local golf, fantasy football and much more.