Plenty of NFL coaches and players will be asked plenty of questions about the decision of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand for the national anthem. Bills coach Rex Ryan addressed the topic during a press conference on Sunday.
While Ryan chose his words carefully, his message was clear: On his team, guys stand for the anthem.
“I think first off, it’s an important thing for me,” Ryan said of the national anthem. “I think it’s a way of showing respect for the men and women who have served our country and are currently serving our country and that’s kind of how I look at it. But I have and I understand now that there’s some religious beliefs that don’t necessarily allow that. I had a player, he was really distraught over it, came up and saw me, and I’m like. ‘Hey look, you’ve got to do . . . .'”
Ryan didn’t identify the player who expressed concern or provide a time frame for the incident, and he wasn’t asked to do so.
“Anytime I talk to my team about that, if there’s personal beliefs or whatever that keep you from doing it, I understand,” Ryan said. “But at the same time, you know, you’ve got to look at the gifts that we have, the opportunity that we have to play a great game is through the men and women that serve our country. I think that’s an opportunity right there just to show respect, and I think that’s why when you see our team, every one of us are on that line and that’s kind of our way of giving thanks.”
Making Ryan’s remarks more intriguing than if they came from any other coach is the fact that Ryan previously has made his affinity for Kaepernick as a player clear. Also, Buffalo offensive coordinator Greg Roman served in that role during the best years of Kaepernick’s career. So if/when Kaepernick is available, the Bills are one of the short-list teams that would be obviously interested in him.
If Kaepernick persists in his refusal to stand for the flag, maybe they won’t be.