Colts players release statement about NFL protests

Members of the Indianapolis Colts take a knee during the nation anthem before an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Colts players on Sunday afternoon released a statement saying, in part, that the players who knelt during the national anthem on Sept. 24 “did not intend to disrespect our flag, the National Anthem, or those who serve our country” but that as professional football players, they “have a platform” and a “responsibility to speak up for those who cannot speak from themselves.”

After President Donald Trump’s Sept. 22 suggestion to fire NFL players who kneel during the national anthem and the nationwide debate that followed, the Indianapolis Colts players released the statement ahead of their Sunday evening game in Seattle against the Seahawks.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay responded on Sept. 23 to President Donald Trump’s suggestion, saying he was “troubled by the the president’s recent comments about our league and our players.”

More than 200 NFL players were observed sitting or kneeling during the performing of the national anthem at football games across the country last Sunday — including 24 players at Lucas Oil Stadium as the Cleveland Browns faced the Indianapolis Colts.

The statement also says last week’s protests by Colts players were intended “to raise awareness and continue critical conversations about real equality, the injustices against black and brown people, police brutality, respect, unity, and equal opportunity” while speaking to the way football brings together people from a variety of backgrounds.

Read the statement in full here:

Recently, there have been several misperceptions regarding a personal choice made by members of our team to brig awareness to prevailing issues facing out nation. To be clear — those of us who kneeled did not intend to disrespect our flag, our National Anthem or those who serve our country. We all have family and friends who are servicemen and woman. We appreciate and respect the incredible sacrifices they make.

But as NFL players, we have a platform. And as Americans, we have a responsibility to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Our intention was to raise awareness and continue critical conversations about real equality, the injustices against black and brown people, police brutality, respect, unity, and equal opportunity. Our players are hurting, our people are hurting, our neighborhoods are hurting, and kneeling was a direct response to that hurt.

But what makes football so special is the way it brings people together — fans, players, coaches, all of us. We represent different races, backgrounds and beliefs, but we come together for a common goal. That togetherness seen on the field and in the stands when we play should resonate even when we leave the stadium.

In that same spirit, as unified Americans, we will respect all forms of peaceful protest, as they are protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Some of our players may kneel, while others may stand. But this is just the beginning. There is much work to do, and it will take all of us.

Kneeling for JUSTICE. Standing for UNITY. Fighting for EQUALITY. Showing RESPECT.

TOGETHER.”