*Sunday’s season premiere of NBC’s “Football Night in America” included comments from Hall of Fame coach and commentator Tony Dungy on the topic of players protesting the national anthem.
Dungy revealed that he, like San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others, did not stand for the anthem at one point in his life, but later decided that he would stand and instead pray silently throughout the song for the racial and social changes he sought in the U.S.
Regarding Sunday’s demonstrations of unity around the league, “I really appreciated it,” Dungy said. “When I coached, the National Anthem was very special to me. We practiced the National Anthem during training camp. We videotaped it. I showed the rookies how it should be done. We wanted it done professionally and with pride.”
However, Dungy says he would support those players who demonstrated, including the Dolphins players who kneeled on Sunday.
“In 1968 I was a 12 year old kid,” Dungy said. “Martin Luther King had just gotten shot. Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the ‘68 Olympics with the bowed heads. There were African-Americans all over the country at that time deciding if we should stand for the National Anthem. I talked to my dad about it. My dad was a teacher. He had enlisted in the service to fight in World War II. He did that even though he knew he wouldn’t be able to ride in the front of some buses, he wouldn’t be able to teach in some white schools. But he fought for our country. When I asked him what I said I should do, he said do what you think would make the situation better.”