NFL Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, who serves as president of football operations for the Denver Broncos, said in a statement Tuesday that he believes in standing for the national anthem but can understand why there are players who were less than receptive to President Donald Trump's heavy criticism.
What did Elway say?
According to the statement, Elway said, "I'm one that believes in standing for the national anthem, and I've always believed that.
“I believe that this is the greatest country in the world," he continued. "We are very fortunate to live here, but it’s obviously not perfect.
"There are a lot of things that need to be corrected," he said, "and we will continue to work on those things."
"I understand the players and the way they felt from the comments that were made earlier in the week," Elway went on, referring to Trump's criticisms of the NFL players. "They felt they had to go down and kneel and that's up to them."
He concluded, "Hopefully as we go forward we can start concentrating on football a little bit more. Take the politics out of football. But I think that last week was a good show of unity by the NFL and hopefully, this week we can move forward."
President of Football Ops/GM John Elway to @BroncosTV on players’ National Anthem statements: https://t.co/Q6F9rszh4x— Denver Broncos (@Denver Broncos) 1506468352.0
What did Trump say that players were reacting to?
Trump last week addressed the national anthem protesters directly and got explicit about them.
During a Luther Strange rally in Huntsville, Alabama, Trump said, "Luther and I, and everyone in this arena tonight are unified by the same great American values. We’re proud of our country.
"We respect our flag!" he added. "Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of a b***h off the field right now?"
Trump said, "He’s fired. He’s fired!" as the crowd applauded wildly and chanted, "USA!"
"You know," Trump continued, "some owner’s gonna do that. He’s gonna say that guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired. And that owner, they don’t know it, they don’t know it ... They’re friends of mine, many of them. They don’t know — they’ll be the most popular person for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country."
Concluding, Trump said, "'Cause that’s a total disrespect of our heritage, OK? That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for ... Everything that we stand for."