NFL Hall of Famer and analyst Michael Irvin is the latest to share an opinion about players kneeling or standing during the national anthem.
Ever since Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem back in 2016 to protest police brutality and systemic racism, the issue has been a hot button topic for many.
In a wide-ranging Q&A with The Dallas Morning News, Irvin was asked about his own stance on the national anthem, which is very much live and let live.
"If you want to stand, you want to stand; if you don’t want to stand, you don’t want to stand," the former Dallas Cowboys star said.
On a personal level, Irvin said he has always stood for the anthem and will continue to stand, detailing his reasons why.
"I’ve always stood — and listen, I’ve taken on this new meaning since I started doing Thursday night football and I saw guys come out, you know, doing the national anthem and we used to have the wounded warriors come out," Irvin said. "I’ve seen guys with one leg, one arm, and you see their pride when they go out there and hold that flag when they stretch it across the field. That touches me. I’m telling you, every Thursday night, where I sat there and shook every one of those guys’ hands. I held back crying, because you see them and it was like they were trying to show their kids, ‘this is why mom or this is why dad is handicapped. This is what it was all about.’ I get emotional just talking about it. From that standpoint, I’ve always said I would stand."
However, the "Playmaker" said he understands and supports those who choose to kneel, adding that he is hoping for a time when there is more focus on finding a solution to the societal issues than fighting over whether one stands or kneels.
“But I understand if you don’t want to stand. That’s what we fought for. What I don’t get, is why we have to have such polarizing fights, when we are all arguing about the same thing. We are fighting for the same thing. We are fighting for the constitution. Everybody thinks they’re fighting for their constitutional rights. They just see different fights. I don’t understand why we can’t focus on the solution. Why everyone, must focus on ‘well who won the fight.’ Instead of putting the energy into finding the solution for the disconnection. That confuses the hell out of me. It would take a lot less energy to find a solution, than we spend in the fight, but we refuse to do that.”
As well-intentioned as Irvin's words might be, it is naïve to think we're going to get to a place where the simple act of protest isn't debated. That's a sad statement, but a true one.