The NFL has taken offense to Trump demanding that players protesting the national anthem be fired, sparking a number of teams and players to protest the anthem this weekend.
According to NBC, one player who didn’t support the protests was Denver Bronco Derek Wolfe. On ESPN, he asked the protesters, “…if you don’t think we are the greatest country in the world and you reside here, then why do you stay?”
The protests come after a fiery speech Trump gave during a rally for Republican Senator Luther Strange, according to the Guardian. There, Trump criticized the anti-patriotism running rampant in the NFL, saying, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b**** off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!”
Various players in the NFL took offense to Trump’s comments, vowing to protest him by refusing to stand during the national anthem. The Pittsburgh Steelers, as a team (save for one military veteran player), hid in the locker room during the national anthem, according to the Chicago Tribune.
According to Steelers Head Coach, Mike Tomlin, the players decided to protest the flag to show unity.
Yet, not all players and fans agree. Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe wondered why people who have strong negative feelings towards the US — the country that gave them the opportunity to play the sport they love for a living — would remain here.
He told reporters in a lengthy statement that, “I stand because I respect the men who died in real battle so I have the freedom to battle on the field. Paying tribute to the men and women who have given their lives for our freedom is why I stand. But everyone these days likes to find a reason to protest and that’s their right.”
Wolfe clarified his position, stating that disrespecting the military shouldn’t be the way to protest, saying, “It’s America and you are free to speak your mind. I just feel it’s disrespectful to the ones who sacrificed their lives and it’s maybe the wrong platform. But like I said to each their own it’s AMERICA!”
Wolfe questioned why people would hate the country that gave them such freedoms. He proclaimed, “The greatest country in the world and if you don’t think we are the greatest country in the world and you reside here, then why do you stay? A lot worse places in the world to call home. Proud to be an American.”
While the Steelers hid in the locker room, the Bears, on the other hand, found a way to show their frustrations without disrespecting the country that gave so much to them. During the national anthem, the players remained standing, but locked their arms in a show of unity and strength, according to Coach John Fox.
Chicago defensive end Akiem Hicks stated, “We have great respect for our country, great respect for the flag, great respect for the anthem. We also want to show that we’re unified. That was the best way to show that we hold all those things dear and we are American citizens.”
Chairman George McCaskey stated, “What makes this the greatest country in the world are the liberties it was founded upon and the freedom to express oneself in a respectful and peaceful manner.”
Though everyone is free to express how they feel and protest in whatever way they wish, it goes without saying that not everyone will be supportive of how these messages are delivered. The Steelers only succeeded in creating further controversy, while the Bears showed unity without offense.
Wolfe’s question of why those who hate America would still choose to remain here highlights the amusing hypocrisy of those who protest the national anthem. Though they may outwardly oppose the US, deep down, these players would never dream of leaving the greatest country in the world. They would never leave behind all the amazing freedoms and successes that being a United States citizen affords them.
Hopefully, more NFL teams will follow this example of how to properly convey a message without causing harm.