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Majority of Americans now say it's OK for NFL players to kneel during the national anthem

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Poll indicates a major shift

Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The majority of Americans now say it is appropriate for NFL players to protest by kneeling during the national anthem, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.

The poll, released Thursday, found that the May 25 killing of George Floyd by former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin and subsequent protests against police brutality have moved public opinion significantly on the matter.

In the wake of nationwide demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter and similar protests, a majority of Americans, 52 percent, now agree that it is "OK for NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest police killings of African Americans." Now, 36 percent of respondents say it's inappropriate to do so. (The remaining 12 percent answered "not sure.")

Both male and female respondents said they were OK with the action at a margin of 52% to 37% among male respondents and 52% to 34% among female respondents.

The biggest spilt was along political party lines, with 77% of Democrats but only 20% of Republicans supporting the practice. Pertaining to race, "77% of blacks, 57% of Hispanics, and 47% of whites answered positively."

A major shift

In 2016, when then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick jumpstarted the practice, only 28% of Americans considered his actions "appropriate," Yahoo News noted. Two years later, in 2018, as many other NFL players began joining Kaepernick in kneeling, the number jumped to 35% but failed to garner majority support.

Earlier this month, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees came under fire for saying that while he is heartbroken over George Floyd's death, he will "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America" by kneeling during the anthem.

After swift backlash from teammates and many inside the sports world, Brees issued several apologies.

President Trump, who has always been adamantly opposed to kneeling during the anthem, took to Twitter to say that Drew Brees "should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag."

It remains to be seen if, with increased support, more NFL players will take part in kneeling in protest should games resume this fall.

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