Broncos president says team will back players who kneel during national anthem
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Joe Ellis, president and CEO of the Denver Broncos, said Wednesday that the team will stand behind players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.

“On the anthem, everyone’s got a right to do as they please, express themselves as they feel. I’m going to respect that. We’re going to respect that as an organization,” Ellis said at a press conference, The Denver Post reported.

He also reportedly said the players may convene later this year to talk about possibly doing “something as a team” before the season kicks off.

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“I think once we get down to 53 [players], my guess is that the players will meet and convene. They may want to do something as a team. I will be there to listen and learn. It’s been an eye-opening period of about three months now. As I said, I’m going to respect — whatever it is that they decided to do we’re going to stand by that as an organization,” Ellis said. 

The nationwide debate around players kneeling during "The Star-Spangled Banner" to protest racial inequality has reignited in recent months amid widespread demonstrations against police use of force sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other Black Americans. 

Last month, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees drew viral criticism online after he said in an interview that he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country” when asked for his thoughts on players kneeling again once the NFL season begins.

Shortly after, Brees issued an apology for the “pain” caused by his comments, which came several days after the death of Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis. 

The NFL also apologized last month for its past handling of the protest movement, which was started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 season. 

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In a video in early June, Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league was “wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest” while adding: “We, the National Football League, believe Black lives matter."

"Without Black players there would be no National Football League and the protests across the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of Black players, coaches, fans and staff,” he also said.

Goodell’s apology, however, did not mention Kaepernick by name, prompting calls for the commissioner to personally apologize to the former quarterback, who previously accused team owners of colluding to keep him from getting signed after he became a target for President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary MORE and other conservatives who claimed his protests were unpatriotic.

It remains unclear what form the 2020 NFL season will take amid the coronavirus pandemic. The abbreviated MLB season has already faced serious problems with players testing positive for COVID-19 since its delayed launch last week.