Sport, protest, and the NFL National Anthem debate

Edmund Santurri, Alan Page, Jackie MacMullan, Nate Boyer
St. Olaf professor Edmund Santurri, former justice and former NFL player Alan Page, sports analyst Jackie MacMullan, former NFL and US Army Green Beret Nate Boyer at an Institute for Freedom and Community panel discussion at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.
William Cipos | St. Olaf College

With the Super Bowl coming to Minneapolis, the controversy over NFL players "taking a knee" during the National Anthem again comes to the fore.

Former NFL Hall of Famer and Minnesota Supreme Court justice Alan Page, former Army Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer, and ESPN sports analyst Jackie MacMullan participated in a dialogue about protesting injustice.

Alan Page said, "in the end, it's really not about the flag. It's really not about the anthem, it's not about the First Amendment, it's about justice. And the question is, what is more important?" Page quoted Paul Robeson saying "the answer to injustice isn't to silence the critic. It's to end the injustice."

Nate Boyer, who played for the Seattle Seahawks, met with Colin Kaepernick, and suggested that instead of sitting for the anthem, he should kneel alongside his teammates. Boyer also wrote a letter to Kaepernick, and the public, which he titled, "Dear Every Single American."

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

The ex-Green Beret said at St. Olaf it's "our ultimate freedom of expression, of speech, to do exactly what Kaepernick was doing. I fought for people that burn the flag. I don't like it, but that's what I fought for."

Boyer added, "If you want people to listen to YOU, you need to listen to THEM... patriotism is not reserved for people with conservative values, but I want to remind you that open-mindedness is not reserved for people with liberal values."

Jackie MacMullan said what the NFL is doing today is "too little, too late."

The event was held on January 23, 2018 at the Institute for Freedom and Community at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Religion and philosophy professor Edmund Santurri was the moderator. He is director of the Institute.