Jack Nicklaus’ opinions carry a lot of weight in the golf world, so it was no surprise that he was asked about the current controversy in the NFL – players not standing for the national anthem – during an appearance for Rolex, one of his longtime sponsors, at the Presidents Cup.
Nicklaus, 77, acknowledged the players’ right to protest and said he wished President Donald Trump hadn’t brought the issue up, but said “there’s a time and a place” to protest, and “I don’t believe the national anthem is the place to do that.”
“I suppose everybody has a right to display their first-amendment rights,” Nicklaus said, according to Golfweek. “I don’t think there is any squawk about that. But I think there is a time and place. I personally don’t think half the fellows that are probably doing it understand what they’re doing. I don’t think that the sporting field is the right place.
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“I know the President (Donald Trump) got involved in it. Wish he hadn’t. I know some of the owners who probably felt one way had to support their players, so you get a very confusing answer as to what you’ve got.”
One of Nicklaus’ grandchildren, Nick O’Leary, is a tight end for the Buffalo Bills.
“I personally have always felt like, no matter where I went in the world, no matter where I played golf, whenever the national anthem was played for any country I always stood and took my hat off and respected that anthem, and what it was, and what it meant to the people that were there,” Nicklaus said. “Every time the national anthem is played, I get – and I have for 60, 70 years – still get a chill up and down my spine. Every time it’s played. I think it supports, (and) honors, the meaning of people who have given their lives, who have given their time and effort for our country, and they need to be respected for that.”
“It’s a very difficult question to answer when you ask me. Everyone who answers that question cannot properly answer it. They don’t want to disrespect the rights of the kids. And you don’t want to disrespect our country. So how do you answer it?
“Does it tell you that Alejandro Villanueva (the Pittsburgh Steelers lineman – a former Army Ranger – who stood alone on the field while the anthem played, while the rest of his team stayed in the locker room on Sunday) is the best-selling jersey since last Sunday? Does that tell you what people think?”