House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a statement to the reporters Tuesday saying that he does not support the act of kneeling by the NFL players during the national anthem, however, he does believe that they have a right to protest “as they see fit,” Fox News reports.
Ryan received a question at a news conference whether he approves President Donald Trump’s position that NFL players should be fired if they kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and he answered that he believes the nation’s flag and anthem should be “celebrated.”
“My own view is that we shouldn’t do it on the anthem,” he said. “The national anthem, our flag and the people who defend it and who represent it should be celebrated everywhere and always. That is my opinion.”
Ryan also added that players have a right to protest and are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Hill reports. Ryan’s comments came as Trump has come under fire for his recent remarks on the issue.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. He is fired. Fired!,” Trump said.
As a response, many players, coaches and team owners around the NFL kneeled or locked arms during the performance of the national anthem. Several teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, stayed inside their locker rooms while the national anthem was performed.