Olivier Vernon said he will abide by the new NFL rule that prohibits players from kneeling or demonstrating during the pregame national anthem, but he doesn’t like it.
“I ain’t trying to get fined, so no,” he said on Saturday evening at the Landon Collins Celebrity Softball Game in Pomona (where $35,000 was raised for the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund that helps families dealing with pediatric cancers).
Vernon was among three Giants to kneel for the anthem in protest of social injustice during one game early in the 2017 season and then became the only Giants player to do so for the rest of the season. President Trump and others decried their protest as unpatriotic and last month Trump asked aloud whether players who kneel for the anthem should even be in the country.
Vernon, speaking publicly for the first time since the new rule was adopted by NFL owners last month, shrugged when asked about the misinterpretation of the protest, which has been a problem for the movement since its earliest stages. He said he has not yet spoken to his teammates about how they will handle the new NFL rule, nor has he decided what he will when the season begins. Under the new NFL rules, players will have the option to remain in the locker room during the anthem.
“I mean, you never want to be told what to do, especially when it comes to your freedom of speech,” Vernon said. “But it is what it is.”