Good Morning America co-host Michael Strahan said that he would likely kneel in protest if he was still playing in the NFL.
The former NFL star, who spent his entire 15-year-career with the New York Giants, was asked about the controversial protest on Monday’s episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“I think I would have [kneeled],” he told host Ellen DeGeneres. “I would have had a conversation with my father, and based on that conversation, and conversations, I’ve had with him, I’m pretty sure I would have.”
Strahan, who retired in 2008, explained that his own father was an Army veteran.
“When my father, who’s 81, can look at me and tell me that he’s not offended by it because he understands, then how could I, who didn’t do that service, be offended?”
The NFL announced in May that players who kneel during the national anthem this season would be fined. The league also declared that players who do want to protest can choose to remain in the locker rooms.
Miami Dolphins teammates Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson were the only two players to kneel during the national anthem on the NFL’s season-opening game Sunday.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who created the kneeling protest, acknowledged the teammates in a tweet, calling them his “brothers.”
My Brothers @kstills and @ithinkisee12 continue to show their unwavering strength by fighting for the oppressed! They have not backed down, even when attacked and intimidated. Their courage will move the world forward!
Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem in 2016 — as a protest against police brutality — sparked a national debate. His actions eventually led to the #TakeAKnee campaign that swept the NFL, and other sports, in the following months.
“One of the things you can do in this country is you can protest, and he’s protesting injustices that he sees happening,” Strahan said of Kaepernick. “And I take my hat off to him because he really did sacrifice and put so much on the line for other people that he had no idea who they were. He’s never met them, does not know them, and he put his whole life and career on the line.”
Strahan did have one criticism, pushing players to become more organized.
“Football, there seems to be a fracture between player and ownership and they need to get that together in order to get the message out there in the right way and not letting the message become hijacked and turned into something it was never intended to be,” Strahan suggested.