Weeks before 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick created a controversy with his decision to sit down during the national anthem as a form of protest against treatment of African Americans and minorities by police and the judicial system, Giants first-year head coach Ben McAdoo discussed the issue of pregame protocol with his team.
“We addressed it before the first preseason game,” McAdoo said Monday. “We had [assistant coach] Mike Sullivan and Colonel Greg Gadson come up and talk to the team. They did a great job.”
Gadson and Sullivan were classmates at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and Gadson, who lost both legs and had his right arm severely injured as a result of a roadside bombing in Iraq, previously addressed the Giants several times when Tom Coughlin was head coach. As a show of respect, McAdoo asks his players to line up along the sideline during the playing of the anthem.
“We consider it a small gesture to those who served and sacrificed their lives for our country and for us to play and coach in this great game,” McAdoo said. “Part of that is the freedom of speech, and we certainly respect that. We talk to our guys about keeping empathy in mind when they do lead and they do use this league as a platform. But I’d be disappointed if one of our guys chose not to stand. It’s their choice; it’s not mandatory, but we feel it’s important.”