BOSTON (CBS) — Many fans at Gillette Stadium booed the Patriots players who took a knee for the national anthem on Sunday. Former Patriot Matt Light shares their sentiment.
The Ohio native, who spent 11 years in a Patriots uniform, said that he was “ashamed” to see Patriots players on a knee during the anthem.
“If you think that it’s OK to take a knee during our national anthem and disrespect openly the national anthem, you are wrong,” Light told the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian. “As a guy that’s been there and helped set up the Patriot Way so they can walk in there and do what they do, it’s beyond disheartening. It’s the first time I’ve ever been ashamed to be a Patriot. And I promise you I’m not the only one.”
Light, who attended the game next to the wife of a slain member of Seal Team 6, said there is not any reason in the world to ever take a knee during the national anthem.
“That’s the reality that these so-called men don’t understand. Is it about their cause or is it about them? If it was about their cause, I could come up with a million different ways for them to really truly change things. If it’s about them, well … you see what happens. The collateral damage is widespread,” Light said. “They obviously didn’t think about anybody other than themselves.”
Light, who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots and made three Pro Bowls, said that the protests “would have never happened during my time.”
Some of the players who took a knee on Sunday included captain Devin McCourty, captain Duron Harmon, Brandin Cooks, Elandon Roberts, Malcom Brown, Deatrich Wise, Alan Branch, Lawrence Guy, Brandon Bolden, Trey Flowers, Malcolm Butler, and more.
Light said the Patriots have typically avoided anything that might be considered a distraction.
“If that is not the Patriot Way anymore, then I am very disheartened and very upset,” he said. “I’m also not saying that I’ll never be a Patriots fan. What I’m saying is I’m very ashamed.”
At least one former Patriots player disagrees. Vince Wilfork, who played with the Patriots from 2004-14, said before the game that he took issue with President Donald Trump’s remarks over the weekend and that players were only exercising their rights as citizens.
“He’s the leader of this country and to talk to citizens the way he did, no matter what’s going on, talk to us like that, is unacceptable hands down,” Wilfork said. “The players are relaying their message on the platform and they have so they have every right to do that.”
Light joined Toucher & Rich on Monday morning and was asked about his comments. Fred Toucher asked Light for his opinion regarding Trump’s statement, which sought to limit free speech.
“This is like one of those college courses where the professor gets up and says, ‘What the author was really trying to say is … ‘ and then he puts his own spin on things,” Light said. “This is so black and white and so simple, so very ‘X = 8’ because that’s the kind of guy I am. The President of the United States, the way he does things I don’t agree with. But we all know what he was saying. We all know that he was saying that we should respect the national anthem. He never said, ‘I don’t like black people.’ He never said, ‘I’m a racist.’ Right? Which is what these guys are alluding to, that he must be a racist because he’s saying that we should stand for the national anthem and he’s trying to keep us down, or whatever it is.”
Rich Shertenlieb interjected, saying that Trump advocated for anybody who took a knee to oppose police brutality against black people in this country should be fired for the silent protest.
“I’m not sure how you got that,” Light said.
Shertenlieb asked Light why Colin Kaepernick — who started this movement last year — took a knee.
“Listne, I don’t know, because Kaepernick didn’t go much further than taking a knee,” Light said. “He talks about racism, and police violence, and all these things. And he took a knee for those things, right? And that was his decision to do that. I don’t know why Devin McCourty and the rest of the guys took a knee, because I haven’t seen them take the time to really articulate it. As a matter of fact, only a few of them talked about it after the game.”
Light summarized his feelings.
“I don’t like the way Trump says a lot of things. Matter of fact, I can’t stand to listen to him talk half the time. And I think there’s a lot of people that fall into that category. But the real message behind it is real simple, and people know it, and if you want to skew it and make it into something else, that’s your right to do so,” Light said. “But I’m going to tell you right now, there is a lot of Americans that don’t understand where we’re going right now. And we need leaders to stand up and say it like it is and not be afraid of the backlash. Look, I’ve never seen color in my life; I see actions. When I see actions like that, I have to say something about it. Because we have young people that look up to these guys, and they’re confused right now. They need to know that we are a strong nation and that we will stand for our flag no matter what.”
Listen to Matt Light explain his feelings further on Toucher & Rich: