Giants co-owner John Mara, predictably, winced when Olivier Vernon told fans who didn’t like him kneeling during the national anthem to stay home.
But he also respects Vernon’s decision to kneel, even while admitting he will be trying to talk him out of it someday.
Mara, appearing on ESPN New York’s The Michael Kay Show, said he didn’t think Vernon was trying to antagonize fans who disagreed with him.
“I haven’t talked to him about that yet, but I don’t really think he meant it that way,” Mara said, via NJ.com. “If you look at the overall interview that he gave, it was actually pretty good. I think he should have chosen his words more carefully.”
Vernon, the son of a police officer, began kneeling in Week Three, sparked by President Donald Trump’s criticism. He has said repeatedly his protest has nothing to do with the military or law enforcement, but rather is about racial inequality.
“I’ve talked to him about his kneeling and I’ve told him how much I would prefer that he stand and we’ve talked about why he does that,” Mara said. “As some people know, his father is a retired police officer in South Florida. He said he’s talked to his father about it and his father supports his decision. . . .
“I don’t agree with what he’s doing, but I told him that I respect him as a man, I respect him as a player. I’m going to try to convince him to stand and I think at some point that he will, but this is something that he believes very deeply in and it’s going to be an individual decision. I know that’s not a popular decision. I know by virtue of me telling you this right now that’s going to prompt a few hundred more letters and emails, but that’s the way it is.”
Vernon’s the only Giants player who continues to protest. And Mara knows he can’t do anything (else) to alienate fans during the final three home games of the season, or the good players he has paid a lot of money to.