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Dale Hansen on Trump vs. The NFL

Los Angeles (CNN) Colin Kaepernick took a knee. Donald Trump took offense. And now the world is paying attention.

13 months after the former 49ers quarterback began his silent protest, the President of the United States launched into a sensational tirade against NFL players who have taken a knee in protest of “The National Anthem.”

He told a crowd in Alabama: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

Trump has turned the protest into an anti-military, anti-cop, anti-patriotism crusade.

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But this was Kaepernick’s initial response to critics during the pre-season in 2016: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

A few other players joined Kaepernick in taking a knee in 2016. But he always remained the face of the movement.

And it likely cost him his career in the NFL when he parted ways with the 49ers in the off-season and not a single NFL team picked him up in 2017.

Kaepernick remained a talking point on sports radio shows. But the issue exploded when President Trump took the S.O.B. road.

His comments seemed to unite NFL players, coaches and owners making “The National Anthem” protest a lead story across media platforms.

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Athletes like Doug Baldwin of the Seattle Seahawks tweeted: “I do believe this will be a unifying moment for the sports world. And with as much influence as athletes have on the younger generation, this can be an opportunity for us to change the narrative of society and point to the president as a poor example of what you can become if you remain close minded, ignorant and uneducated.”

Never one to shy away from polarizing rhetoric, the President doubled down: “The NFL is in a box, a really bad box,” Trump said to White House reporters. “In my opinion, the NFL has to change or their business is going to go to hell.”

Enter a new voice into the arena: WFAA-TV Sports Director, Dale Hansen. He’s a lifelong sports guy, a Vietnam veteran and a man who is fed up with racism in America.

His impassioned commentary to his viewers went viral. Here’s a transcript.

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick takes a knee during the national anthem in San Francisco last year. We noticed, but very few players joined him.

He can’t get a job in the NFL now, and very few have said much about that, either.

But the president says he wants that peaceful protest to stop… He says those players should be fired if they take a knee during the anthem, and calls those players a name I never thought I’d live long enough to hear a president say.

Now, everybody cares.

Donald Trump has said he supports a peaceful protest because it’s an American’s right… But not this protest, and there’s the problem: The opinion that any protest you don’t agree with is a protest that should be stopped.

Martin Luther King should have marched across a different bridge. Young, black Americans should have gone to a different college and found a different lunch counter. And college kids in the 60’s had no right to protest an immoral war.

I served in the military during the Vietnam War… and my foot hurt, too. But I served anyway.

My best friend in high school was killed in Vietnam. Carroll Meir will be 18 years old forever. And he did not die so that you can decide who is a patriot and who loves America more.

The young, black athletes are not disrespecting America or the military by taking a knee during the anthem. They are respecting the best thing about America. It’s a dog whistle to the racists among us to say otherwise.

They, and all of us, should protest how black Americans are treated in this country. And if you don’t think white privilege is a fact, you don’t understand America.

The comedian Chris Rock said it best: There’s not a white man in America who would trade places with him, and he’s rich.

It has not gone unnoticed that President Trump has spoken out against the Mexicans who want to come to America for a better life against the Muslims and now against the black athlete. He says nothing for days   … about the white men who marched under a Nazi flag in Charlottesville except to remind us there were good people there. And when he finally tried to say the right thing not 1 of them was called an s-o-b, nor did he say anyone should be fired.

Maybe we all need to read our Constitution again. There has never been a better use of pen to paper. Our forefathers made freedom of speech the First Amendment. They listed 10, and not one of them says you have to stand during the national anthem.

And I think those men respected the country they fought for and founded — a great deal more than the self-proclaimed patriots who are simply hypocrites — because they want to deny the basic freedom of this great country…

A country they supposedly value, and cherish so much.

hansenDale Hansen joined “CNN Newsroom L.A.” where he told Isha Sesay, “I like to speak out about social issues, because I think sports is basically a metaphor for life.”

Hansen said, “Despite the fact that so many athletes in America, football players in particular, are thrown under this big umbrella of being bad guys — the reality is they are not. They are good, young, hard-working men who have worked very hard at the craft and make the money they do.”

He said that he “was beyond offended” by what President Trump said, and added: “I just do not like anyone deciding who is an American; who is a patriot.”

Colin Kaepernick’s original message may have gotten muddled in the polarization of politics.

But the truth is America has a race problem. Picking sides with the President or the protest shouldn’t be what this is about.

To make America great again means acknowledging its flawed past and

“The flag represents the ideals of America. The flag represents what we all hope that America should be,” Hansen said. “But the reality is that for too many in America, and black Americans in particular, we have not met that ideal. We should protest what has happened to black Americans.”

“I wouldn’t kneel. I will probably never kneel during ‘The National Anthem.’ But I do think it’s the best thing about America that they have the freedom and the opportunity to do so.”

Written and produced by: Ben Bamsey for “CNN Newsroom L.A.

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