BOSTON (CBS) — Patriots safety Duron Harmon was one of the nearly 20 New England players who took a knee during the national anthem on Sunday, a silent protest that has drawn both support and opposition from fans.
Players took part in these silent protests all around the NFL on Sunday, just days after President Donald Trump said the NFL should fire any players taking a knee during the anthem, with a few more colorful words mixed in to describe these players.
Harmon joined WBZ-TV’s Sports Final on Sunday night to discuss their decision to take a knee, and said the goal was to stand up for their freedom of speech and show that they are unified.
“In no way, shape or form do I want to send a message disrespecting the military, the policemen and firemen, our country. More importantly, we wanted to do something to let the world know we’re unified,” he said.
Harmon explained that he and teammates Devin McCourty and Brandin Cooks prayed for the country during the anthem.
“There is so much division in our country from all points of view. We prayed for our country, prayed for our president to bless and touch his heart. We prayed for understanding, for people to really understand what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re not trying to disrespect this country; we love this country. The idea of being able to take a knee in this country is what is really great. You can’t do that in every other country, but in this country we can have that freedom of speech.”
Harmon said they want to use their platform to support those who do not have the opportunity to voice their opinion in the national spotlight.
“I know a lot of people put their lives on the line being in the military and protecting our country, but we’re standing up for the people with no voice. Everybody watches football on Sunday; once a week it’s one of the biggest ratings on TV. If we can do something to let people understand what we’re going through, I think it will go a long way. All we need is understanding,” said Harmon.
He said they all heard the boos during their silent protest, but hope that fans will understand what their actions meant.
“We knew we were going to make some people upset,” he said. “We definitely heard the boos. We know they don’t understand why we’re doing it. There is no other way around it. There are two sides of the spectrum. We do it for one reason and they want us to stand for another reason. All we’re asking is to be understood, to understand we’re standing for people with no voice. We’re trying to be that gap, that bridge to bring unity to the country.
“This country is the best country in the world, that gives us unlimited opportunities to be what we want to be. It’s not like that in every country, but in this country we can do that and we’re allowed to stand up for our rights,” he said. “We’re standing up for our rights and letting people know they’re not alone. We got through the same things you do. We may play football, but as a black African American man, we go through the same thing everybody else goes through.”
Harmon said he and his teammates aren’t sure if they’ll continue to kneel during the national anthem, but it’s something they’ll discuss of next week’s game against the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium.
“We’re going to make this world unified, and we’re going to try each and every week,” said Harmon.