New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson loves sports — he owns a team in the NFL and the NBA — but as a proud military veteran, he has a greater love: his country. The longtime NFL owner waded into the national anthem protest controversy on Friday with a statement.
What did he say about the protests?
In a statement, Benson emphasized his love for America, the need to find solutions that don't sow division and that each Saint will stand for the national anthem on Sundays.
One of the things I am most proud of is my military service. And there are few things that are more important to me than the honor that I feel we must bestow upon our military men and women — the honor we must show our flag — and standing at attention for our flag and our national anthem is a powerful symbol we must respect.
As an owner in the NFL and NBA for years, I have met many players, coaches and staff from seemingly every background possible. But as this week has demonstrated, there are very sensitive, difficult and emotional matters affecting this country. Now more than ever we must find solutions that unite and don't divide us.
Today, Drew Brees and team leadership stated that our team will stand for the national anthem.
What else did he say?
Benson said that he is committed to searching for peaceful and positive solutions to social grievances that help Americans heal.
We have spoken to our state leadership in Governor Jon Bel Edwards — he is also ready to do what he can with us and if he effects positive change, it will affect people positively.
With my heart, I respect everyone's very honest and sincere opinions that I have heard personally on this subject all week. We are committed to work with our players and our community to be unified to create positive change for all citizens.
Along the way, when presented the opportunity — I offer that we all thank a military man or woman and honor our flag and anthem — it is that freedom that is allowing us this discussion today. We should and must use this most powerful of platforms to help heal.
What did the Saints do last Sunday?
During the height of the controversy, just a little more than 24 hours after President Donald Trump called anthem protesters a "son of a b***h," hundreds of NFL players protested the national anthem by kneeling.
According to Sports Illustrated, 10 Saints didn't stand for the anthem last Sunday, though they didn't kneel either — they sat on the bench.
View from the Saints bench as several players sit during the anthem. https://t.co/TuXoQDY3OS— The MMQB (@The MMQB) 1506272506.0