Panthers coach Ron Rivera grew up in a military family, with a father who spent 32 years in the Army including two tours in Vietnam.
And perhaps because he understands everything the flag represents — including the First Amendment — Rivera said he understood 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s position to not stand during the National Anthem.
“To each his own. Everybody’s going to do it their way,” Rivera told Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “To me, it’s a very personal thing because of my dad, his military background, knowing that his family and my mom’s family served in the military.
“My view is [the anthem] is about honoring the people that served and made the commitment to our country, some who even made the ultimate sacrifice. When I stand, that’s what I’m standing for. I’m standing for the people that came before my father and the people that came after him. . . .
“This is America and people are given freedoms and rights. Whatever he chooses he chooses. So be it. We have to do what we think is right. I think that’s the most important thing. Let’s not forget what this country’s built on, and that’s freedoms.”
It’s not a view every coach would espouse, and already Bills coach Rex Ryan has made it clear he wants his players to stand for the National Anthem. And for many coaches, it’s going to be about the team-building as much as the patriotism, as the guys who make a living in the “ultimate team sport” want all 53 players pulling in the same direction.