NFL player J.J. Watt shared Saturday that he believes those who consider protests during the national anthem at football games to be “about disrespecting” the U.S. flag or military “clearly haven’t been listening."
Watt shared a tweet from a Twitter user who claimed that he was “pretty sure” the Houston Texans defensive end would not kneel during the national anthem, ESPN reported. The tweet has since been deleted.
Watt responded, “Don’t speak for me.”
“If you still think it’s about disrespecting the flag or our military, you clearly haven’t been listening,” he continued.
A) don’t speak for me— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) June 13, 2020
B) if you still think it’s about disrespecting the flag or our military, you clearly haven’t been listening https://t.co/tnsEq5D9WC
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 as a protest against police brutality and racial injustice. He sued the NFL after no team would hire him following the protests.
Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said Friday he will be kneeling during the national anthem during the next football season in protest.
"Yeah, I'll take a knee — I'm all for it," O'Brien told the Houston Chronicle.
"The players have a right to protest, a right to be heard, and a right to be who they are. They're not taking a knee because they're against our flag. They're taking a knee because they haven't been treated equally in this country for over 400 years," he added.
Controversy over kneeling during the national anthem has been sparked by nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd. Floyd died last month after a former Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest.
Watt has previously called the video “disgusting” and “upsetting.”
"I think that there's no explanation for it. I mean, to me, it doesn't make any sense. I just don't see how a man in handcuffs on the ground who is clearly detained and clearly ... in distress — I don't understand how that situation can't be remedied in a way that doesn't end in his death. I think that it needs to be addressed, strongly, obviously," Watt told reporters, according to Sports Illustrated.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reversed the league's past opposition to demonstrations during the national anthem earlier this month. He said in a video that "we were wrong for not listening" to players earlier.
The comments came after players specifically asked the NFL to support black players, call out racism and admit “wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting” in an earlier video.
Watt was also present at Floyd's funeral in Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle.