Kaitlin Flanigan

Kraft Says He'll Let Players Decide on Anthem

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft says that he will let his players decide how they will handle the national anthem at games but said he believes that it is important for players to "respect our flag and our anthem."

In an interview with the BBC, Kraft said that "The greatest enemy in sport is division from within. I personally feel it's very important to respect our flag and our anthem. But I also respect the right of people in this country to make statements or protests, peacefully, in a way that’s appropriate to them."

The comments come just days after Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that any of his players who do not stand for the anthem at games won't play. Jones said he felt that by not standing, the players were disrespecting the flag.

The issue has been making headlines since the season began, with several players and teams kneeling, others linking arms and some staying inside the locker room during the anthem.

Vice President Mike Pence left the 49ers-Colts game after about a dozen San Francisco players took a knee during the national anthem Sunday.

President Donald Trump has called on NFL owners to fire players who don't stand for the anthem and urged fans to boycott games in a series of tweets after he first criticized the demonstrations during a Sept. 22 rally in Alabama.

Kraft was being interviewed by the BBC for a story on free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling for the anthem made him the center of controversy.

The Patriots owner said he is unaware of other owners blocking Kaepernick from rejoining the NFL because of his beliefs and feels it is possible a team could sign the quarterback in the near future.

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