In his first media availability since January, Giants co-owner John Mara said his preference is for players to stand during the national anthem, but that the First Amendment provides them the right to kneel.
Mara later made clear exactly where he stands, which is with his players even if it doesn’t sit right with some of the team’s fan base.
“I’m going to continue to support [the players],” Mara said, via Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “I understand the fact and accept the fact that that’s not going to be necessarily popular with certain segments of our fan base, but I think that’s the right thing to do.”
Players’ work in the community, backing up their words with action, has made it easy for Mara to throw his support behind their peaceful protests, he said.
Mara met with coach Joe Judge and the player leadership group last week to discuss what additional steps to take following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
“I will tell you this: One of the most memorable team meetings I’ve ever been involved with I guess took place right after the George Floyd murder,” Mara said. “I listened to the players talk about their own experiences growing up, dealing with law enforcement, and to see the raw emotion that came out of them — I mean, guys got very very emotional talking about it — it was something that really was an eye-opener for me. And then to see how they’ve reacted since then, all the work they’ve put in their communities and local communities here is really gratifying and makes it easier to want to support them.”
Mara wouldn’t comment when asked about the possibility of NFL players choosing to sit out a regular-season game or games in protest, which happened in other sports after the Blake shooting.
“I don’t want to get into hypotheticals about when the next incident happens are you going to be concerned about if players want to boycott,” Mara said. “We’ll continue to have communications with our players. I’m not gonna worry about that.”