Elway fine with anthem protests if they don’t distract from winning

If Denver Broncos players plan to protest the national anthem during the 2017 season, they will not be met with opposition from John Elway. Unless, of course, their protests generate too much attention in the media.

When it comes to anthem protests, you could say Elway is a bit of a fence sitter. While he said Thursday that he understands players have a right to take part in political demonstrations, he doesn’t want any distractions.

“They have the right to display whatever they wish to display,” Elway said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. “I think one thing that where we stand and I kind of stand with the Broncos is that, ‘You know what? That’s OK. We’ll respect that and whatever you want to do is fine with us. But the bottom line is that can’t get in the way of our main goal, and that is to compete for world championships.’

“So I just don’t want that pulling away from our team, and sometimes that can pull away because obviously it gets a lot of attention and so, therefore, the only thing I would so to our players is make sure it’s not hurting your teammates. If the questions and everything, if the tenor changes everything that’s going on in these interviews and now you’re not talking about our next opponent but you’re talking about what’s going on in the world, that’s not the best thing for our football team.”

You could argue that Elway’s feelings on the subject are the exact reason why Colin Kaepernick remains a free agent. Even if teams aren’t bothered by his polarizing political views, most of them don’t want to be peppered with questions about it and have their backup quarterback creating a media frenzy.

Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall was one player who took a knee during the national anthem last year, and Elway praised him for the way he handled himself.

“And I think obviously Brandon made a point last year, but he carried it forward. He didn’t just make a stand on the field before the games,” Elway explained. “He actually went out in the community and did something and talked to different people and went and talked to law enforcement. I was proud of Brandon and the fact that not only did he show his support for what it was last year, but also he went out and did something in the community about it.”

Marshall’s decision proved to be costly in a number of ways, but ultimately it did not create a locker room distraction.

Elway’s thoughts on anthem protests weren’t quite as strong as those we have heard from some head coaches, but the overall message is quite similar.

Yardbarker: NFL

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