NEW YORK — The NFL season begins tonight with no clarity on the policy surrounding player protests against racial injustice during the national anthem. Jeff Robinson, ACLU deputy legal director, issued the following statement:
“As NFL players prepare to take the field for the regular season, we’re reminded of the power of sports to reach the country. People from all different colors, creeds, religions, and backgrounds come together around the game, in pursuit of a common goal.
“It’s said that people follow football as an escape, a way to avoid the chaos and hardships of the real world. There is some truth there. The real world can be ugly, and some of the ugliest parts are systemic racism and inequity. Some Americans have to live with that before, during and after football games. Players are well within their rights to make this known.
“There are intense disagreements surrounding the protests against racial injustice, which is part of the beauty of America – that you’re entitled to speak out. Protest isn’t supposed to make anyone comfortable.
“Every player should have the right to stand, hand over heart, or kneel in reverence, pleading for America to live up to its ideals. The national anthem rightfully means different things for different people.
“We hope that the NFL and NFLPA find a resolution in support of the players who peacefully bring attention to racial injustice. And to the players kneeling this season, we kneel with you.”