Panthers owner David Tepper is annoyed by the notion — perpetuated by President Donald Trump — that NFL players who protest social injustice and police brutality during the national anthem are unpatriotic.
“These are some of the most patriotic people and best people,” Tepper told CNBC on Thursday in an interview at Carnegie Mellon University. “These are great young men. So to say that [they aren’t patriotic] makes me so aggravated and angry. It’s just wrong, it’s dead wrong.”
Tepper did not name President Trump by name, but referred to him in a follow question about the protests remaining a point of conversation.
“We’re talking about it? I wasn’t talking about it,” Tepper said. “There’s a red-headed guy in D.C. that likes to talk about it, but I don’t want to mention his name.”
The NFL had few players protest during the national anthem during Kickoff Weekend. Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, who sat on the bench during the anthem Monday night, was among the handful who protested.
Tepper said the protests are about “justice for all.”
“It’s the Pledge of Allegiance, one of the most patriotic things you can do. It’s about justice for all,” Tepper said. “Now listen, everybody’s standing this season, because I think people understand that it’s what you do in the community, it’s what you do out here.”
NFL owners passed a revised anthem policy in May, mandating that players either stand on the field or remain in the locker room during the song. The league subsequently put it on hold as discussions with its Players Association on a new policy continue.