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Goodell recognizes Kap's right to protest, disagrees with action

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  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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NEW YORK -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell disagrees with Colin Kaepernick's choice to kneel during the national anthem, but recognizes the quarterback's right to protest.

Asked by The Associated Press about Kaepernick's decision not to stand before games when the national anthem is played, Goodell said in an email Wednesday: "I don't necessarily agree with what he is doing."

"I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don't live in a perfect society," Goodell added. "On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that."

Goodell added that NFL players having a visible platform for their viewpoints. With that comes responsibility to use those platforms properly.

"We have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great," said Goodell, whose late father, Charles, was a U.S. senator.

"I think it's important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement; and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals."

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback wouldn't stand for the anthem at the team's preseason games, with teammate Eric Reid and Seattle's Jeremy Lane doing the same. Kaepernick has cited racial injustice and police brutality among the many reasons for his actions and said he plans to continue to not stand for the anthem during the regular season.

Goodell's full comments on Kaepernick were obtained by NFL Network's Mike Garafolo:

"Well my personal thoughts are ... I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don't live in a perfect society. We live in an imperfect society. On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that. I think it's important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement, and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.

"These are all important things for us, and that moment is a very important moment. So, I don't necessarily agree with what he is doing. We encourage our players to be respectful in that time and I like to think of it as a moment where we can unite as a country. And that's what we need more, and that's what I think football does -- it unites our country. So I would like to see us focusing on our similarities and trying to bring people together.

"Players have a platform, and it's his right to do that. We encourage them to be respectful and it's important for them to do that.

"I think it's important if they see things they want to change in society, and clearly we have things that can get better in society, and we should get better. But we have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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