Tony Dungy Comments on How NFL Players Observed National Anthem in Week 1

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2016

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 06:  Tony Dungy, former NFL head coach, is seen during his 2016 Class Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech during the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on August 6, 2016 in Canton, Ohio.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Tony Dungy is the latest person to weigh in on the national anthem controversy.

The former NFL head coach spoke with NBC's Dan Patrick on Sunday night about players taking a knee during the national anthem. Dungy said he would be supportive if they were on his team (via CSN Bay Area):

I really appreciated it. When I coached, the National Anthem was very special to me. We practiced the National Anthem in training camp with our players. We videotaped it. I showed the rookies how it should be done. We wanted it done professionally, with pride. But I would support even those Dolphins players who kneeled. If they came to me and said, ‘Coach, we want to do this because we really think it’s important.’ I would support that.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a movement when he decided to sit down in protest during the national anthem before preseason games.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he told Steve Wyche of NFL.com.

Kaepernick received plenty of criticism from fans when his protest first drew national attention in August but has since received support from players around the league.

Teammate Eric Reid joined him as they both took a knee during the national anthem prior to the team's final preseason game, while Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane remained seated on the bench on the same night.

Week 1 of the regular season began with Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall taking a knee before the season opener Thursday night.

Various players followed suit Sunday, including a handful of Miami Dolphins players, per SportsCenter:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Several Dolphins players, including Arian Foster, knelt during the national anthem. https://t.co/VJj8eRRXu7 https://t.co/MXdCI4uI0t

On Football Night in America on Sunday, Dungy said he considered protesting the national anthem in 1968 after Dr. Martin Luther King was shot.

He ultimately asked his father for advice:

My dad was a teacher. He had enlisted in the service to fight in World War II. And he did that even though he knew when he came back he wouldn’t be able to ride in the front of some buses. He wouldn’t be able to teach in white schools. But he fought for our country. And when I asked him what I should do, he said, ‘Do what you think is going to help make the situation better.’

The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts coach was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the 2016 class in August. He posted a 139-69 record in 13 years and became the first African-American head coach to win the Super Bowl in 2006.


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