Nick Saban Defends NFL Players’ Protests: ‘They Have the Right to do That’

On his weekly radio show, Alabama coach Nick Saban acknowledged NFL players’ rights to peacefully protest.
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Alabama coach Nick Saban shared his thoughts on NFL players’ protests, speaking Thursday on his weekly radio show.

According to BamaOnline, Saban was asked by a caller who said he was a retired veteran about his opinions on players protesting during the national anthem, and if former Alabama players who chose not to stand for the anthem would be welcome to return to the team’s sidelines.

Saban said earlier this week that he believed in people’s rights to express their beliefs. He explained Thursday that the players are not intending to disrespect veterans.

“I don’t think that what these people are doing is in any way, shape or form are meant to disrespect a veteran or somebody like yourself who has worked so hard, fought so hard, sacrificed so much for all of us to have the quality of life that we want to have,” he said.

“But one of the things that you also fought for and made sacrifice for was that we all could have the freedom to have choice, in terms of what we believe, what we did and what we said. … Look, I respect people’s individual rights. I have my opinion, in terms of what I would do and how I would do it. And I would not want to ever disrespect the symbols that represent the values of our country.

“But I also respect individual differences that other people have, and I think they have the right to express those. Whether it’s our players or somebody else, whether I agree or disagree, I do think they have the right to do that.”