Titans coach Mike Vrabel said his players have the “entire organization’s support” to remain in the locker room during the pre-game national anthem.
Jason Wolf, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee
Titans players who choose to remain in the locker room during the pregame national anthem have the “entire organization’s support,” coach Mike Vrabel said Wednesday.
Vrabel said he addressed the issue with his players earlier in the day, while speaking to reporters for the first time since the NFL last week created a policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem if they’re on the field before games.
“We talked about the policy,” Vrabel said. “I wanted to make sure that everybody understood the policy that just came out, so as coaches and players and everybody in our organization, we’re fully aware of what the policy is. With that being said, we’re also fully aware that we have (controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk’s) and the entire organization’s support to make a decision based on that policy.”
No Titans players ever have knelt during the national anthem, but a handful have found other ways to participate in the widespread protest against racial discrimination and police brutality, which former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began two seasons ago.
Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews, whose father is a longtime Marine and whose brother was killed in Afghanistan, remained in the locker room rather than stand for the anthem before nearly every game last season. Matthews declined to speak when approached for an interview last week.
Other Titans have raised a fist in the air once the anthem concludes.
Vrabel said the policy doesn’t make his job any easier, and he said the team regularly discusses important off-the-field issues.
“It’s going to be something that we’ll continue to address,” Vrabel said. “We’ll continue to address things that affect our players, that affect our team, that affect our fans. Those things are ongoing. That just doesn’t come up once a week. We talk about all types of things in the morning in the team meetings, that I think are important.
“Whether that be our conduct off the field, how we treat women, the decisions that we make when we’re out at restaurants and bars and clubs, to not get in an automobile and drive. I try to just teach them every chance I get. If there’s things that are on my mind and I don’t sleep at night, I usually come in and talk to them about them. Every day there’s a situation with workplace misconduct or some mistreatment of a female. So I try to remind our guys that we want to stay away from those types of situations.”
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