Vikings legend Bud Grant tempers earlier criticism of NFL anthem protests
MINNEAPOLIS -- Vikings hall of fame coach Bud Grant is taking a more measured approach on national anthem protests.Grant, a World War II veteran, had his teams line up in a precise formation for the anthem, and even practiced it during training camp.
MINNEAPOLIS - Vikings hall of fame coach Bud Grant is taking a more measured approach on national anthem protests.
Grant, a World War II veteran, had his teams line up in a precise formation for the anthem, and even practiced it during training camp. Last year, he called then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick "trash" and said he should go to "Mongolia, Bolivia or Bangladesh" because of his decision to sit and then kneel during the anthem.
What Kaepernick did has spread throughout the NFL in the wake of comments by President Donald Trump. During a rally Friday, Sept. 22, in Huntsville, Alabama, the president said league owners should get any "son of a (expletive) off the field" for not standing during the anthem, leading to dozens of NFL players kneeling during "The Star-Spangled Banner" last weekend.
Grant, 90, was asked how he felt about the protests a year after his comments on Kaepernick, now an unsigned free agent.
"They've got every right to do it," said Grant, who coached the Vikings from 1967-83 and again in 1985. "This is a free country. This country was founded on freedom of expression, but all those people that came from Sweden or Ireland or Spain or France and settled this country, all stood under that flag for many, many, many years.
"And now to have somebody, whether it's a disrespect for the flag or the national anthem or whatever cause they have in their craw, I don't (know), if you took a poll, how many people would favor that."
Grant, though, said he realizes the protests might not necessarily have to do with disrespect for the flag.
"To me, it's disrespectful, but I don't know that they're doing it in that vein," he said. "They're trying to send another message through that conduit. I don't think they personally go out and say, 'I do not like the flag. I do not like this country.'
"We're a free country. We can express ourselves any way we want. We will not be taken to jail. We will not be taken out and shot like in some countries."
All in all, Grant preferred what the Vikings did before last Sunday's 34-17 victory over Tampa Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium. Vikings players stood during the anthem while locking arms with teammates, general manager Rick Spielman and owners Zygi and Mark Wilf.
"They're unified; that's the main thing," Grant said. "We're unified. We don't have to spit on the flag to make a point."
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