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Hue Jackson clarifies his National Anthem thoughts

Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson has found himself in the news cycle after answering a question on August 14 about if he would support his players kneeling for the National Anthem. After some national television shows attempted to read between the lines of what he said, Jackson cleared the air on Thursday with a detailed message, which he read off a pre-written script.

WFNY is providing both his original response and his clarification below.

August 14, Hue Jackson answers what his reaction would be if a Browns player sat during the National Anthem:
“I think everybody has a right to do, and I get it, but the National Anthem means a lot to myself personally, the organization and our football team. I hope – again I can’t speak, I haven’t really talked to our team about it – I would hope that we don’t have those issues. I understand there is a lot going on in the world. I like to just keep it here. What we deal with, we try to deal with as a team in our closed environment. We talk about things. Hopefully, that won’t happen. I can’t tell you it won’t happen, but I just know our guys, and I don’t think that is where our focus is. We hope the things that are going on in the world get ironed out, but I know right now we are doing everything we can to get our football team better.”

August 17, Hue Jackson clarifies his response:
“I’d like to share a couple thoughts on my recent post practice comments when I was asked about how I’d feel about a Browns player protesting during the national anthem. First off, our players know that I have a great appreciation for every single one of them. I respect and support their right for peaceful protest; a right afforded to every American. We’ve always made it clear to our players that they should embrace the platform they have as an NFL player to improve our community and use their platform in a positive, thoughtful and respectful manner. Our team, along with every other team in the NFL and every other sport at every level should reflect what is good about America – our diversity of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, as well as equal opportunity. There are issues in our country right now that are far bigger than football, and I understand that and respect that, as well. The issues do impact our players and will compel them to react in many different ways. My personal feeling is that over the last season, we’ve seen players come under unfair scrutiny for protesting during the anthem, mainly because the focus has become on whether or not a player is being disrespectful to the flag or military and not on the issue and cause attempting to be addressed by the protest. The intent of my comments was not to discourage individual expression from our players in light of a cause that moves them to personal expression. I’m disheartened that I gave anyone that impression because I did not speak with enough clarity. However, my words did reflect my concern – that I would express to any player – about protesting during the anthem. There are many effective ways athletes can utilize their platform if they so desire, but I would respect any individual decision, as ultimately, it would be the player’s choice after much thoughtful dialogue. As an American, I am of the belief that our unique strength is in the diversity of our nation. As an NFL Head Coach, I strive to have this same belief reflected in how I lead and value every player on our football team, as well as every individual within our organization. My actions will continue to mirror those beliefs both personally and professionally in a manner that serves to better us as a people and as a country.

“That being said, again like I said, I think some things were kind of taken the wrong way, but at the same time I get it. Everybody has an opinion, but my players know how I feel, how I react and how I respond to what they are trying to accomplish.”