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Florida Politicians React to NFL 'Take a Knee' Controversy

September 25, 2017 - 5:00pm
Brian Mast, Donald Trump, Adam Putnam and Matt Gaetz
Brian Mast, Donald Trump, Adam Putnam and Matt Gaetz

Florida politicians are weighing in on the controversy surrounding NFL players kneeling in silent protest against the National Anthem -- and not all are happy with the sports stars’ actions.

Dozens of NFL players took a knee when the “Star-Spangled Banner” played loudly at football games on Sunday following comments President Donald Trump made at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama Friday, criticizing football players as “unpatriotic” for kneeling during the national anthem.

“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

Trump’s comments sparked a wave of controversy over the weekend. Some Florida politicians were quick to give their opinion on the “#TakeAKnee” protest, slamming the football players for their actions 

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, who served in Afghanistan as a member of the U.S. Army, criticized the NFL players in a Facebook post Monday afternoon.

“The NFL doles out penalties for celebrating a touchdown, but won't require respect for our flag?” Mast wrote. “I have taken a knee after jumping out of a helicopter as we looked for the enemy, taken a knee in front of the Soldiers Cross as we mourned a fallen brother and taken a knee in church.”

Mast added that any player who has taken a knee to protest during the national anthem “should already be gone.”

“To all my brothers and sisters still serving overseas: we stand with you!” he wrote.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., also appeared to give his opinion on the controversy through a retweet of a tweet from President Trump Monday morning.

“#StandForOurAnthem,” the tweet read. 

On the Florida gubernatorial front, GOP candidate and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam supported the president, agreeing that NFL players should stand as the anthem is played.

“I agree with President Trump that professional athletes should stand for our National Anthem,” Putnam tweeted.

Fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, also shared his thoughts on the protest.

“A year ago, long before I became a candidate for Governor I called out the Bucs receiver who knelt for the national anthem,” he wrote on Facebook. “This is not a new issue for me and my attitude has not changed. Thankfully we still have players like Alejandro Villanueva who stood up for our country on the battlefield and stood up for our flag today!” 
Democratic gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum and Chris King both weighed in on the controversy on Monday. 

"Woolworth’s. Marches. Sitting on the bus. Taking a knee. It’s never been popular - but it has been right," Gillum tweeted

"Peaceful protest in the pursuit of justice is fundamentally American and an act of patriotism," King told Sunshine State News.


Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.


Kneeling NFL players are showing utter disrespect not only for the American flag but for everyone who ever served in the USA military in defense of that flag many of whom died in the process. My Dad was severely wounded at Belleau Wood in WWI, and my three older brothers and I served in WWII. Two (2) of my brothers saw combat in the Pacific, one (1) in the first wave of five (5) invasions, the other in the Philippines, and along with me served in the Ready Reserve afterward. One (1) was re-called to active duty for the Korean War and retired from active duty fifteen (15) years later. Each of us loved this country and were willing to lay down our lives for it.

It's really sad when entertainers and athletes cannot just perform their craft but make a divisive political statement. But it seems in recent year these left leaning progressives have found new ways to dis-respect besides burning and spitting on the flag so many fought and died defending. If these folks really want to put their money where their mouth is, pool your millions and take out a full page ad in USA Today voicing their displeasure about whatever......

If they knew what the Nat'l anthem meant, how it was written and why? They would not kneel!... There are plenty of other ways to make their point with out disrespecting the country, the flag and all who died for it...

You are JUDGING them entire Anthem, based on the time in history it was written. Yes, all verses are not "Nice" by TODAY's Standards --- but 250 tears ago, Slavery was wide-spread WORLDWIDE! That's why we only sing the First Verse. BTW - and clue how many BLACK Slave Owner there were during the Civil War? Answer; FAR TOO MANY!

If you went to work and used your 1st Amendment Rights to speak about things your employer didn't support, WHILE ON THE JOB. I'm pretty sure that you would be unemployed. The players have a greater illusion of their importance and the owners are afraid of losing money or players. Either way the real question is ........ For what reason are we the people being distracted ?

I serve to defend and protect the constitution - it means to me that these individuals care about the issue(s) that are hurting our society. I did not serve to protect those amendments that many on here like i.e. the 2nd amendment. We need to protect them all and without the 1st, all others really don't matter. Stop saying they are being disrespectful, to me a retired military member they are showing me the ultimate in respect. They are exercising a Right I was Willing to Die For. So it was OK when the Tikki Sticks and Nazi flags were being shown but a peaceful protest isn't? Then they say there isn't the perception of "White Privilege." Remember WWII, many lost their lives to rid this world of Hitler, Yet that symbol is ok with many because they are exercising their 1st amendment right - which I support but do not like. People if you disagree with what the players are doing but was OK or did not speak out against hate and the Nazi symbol in WV - YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.

You are no Vet, coward...

Name the place I'll show you. Schmuck

VFW, today, anytime after 530... I'll have my Marine hat on. Don't bring your mom...

I'll show you my Blue Retired military ID - you don't get those in a Crackerjack Box. You earn them.

Which VFW?

It's called freedom of speech! Like it or not, the constitution protects it! And kneeling during the Anthem does not impact the workplace - the game!

If don't think that "taking a knee" impacts on the games, then you are living in Alice in Wonderland. If you want to make a statement against our national heritage and those national symbols that represent America, then please do so, but be ready to suffer the consequences. Nearly all of the millionaire football players "taking a knee" are African-Americans. They better choice the right forum to "exercise their rights" because team owners only look at the bottom line who will not stand for this pro BLM protesting on their field, on their time, and to their public.

Let's remember all they are is actor's in costumes being paid a lot of money to entertain us! If they want to be social justice warriors they should do it on their own time, not when they are being paid to do their JOB.

The three Democratic candidates need some time to wet their fingers, stick them in the air, and find out which way the wind is blowing before they can discover if they have an opinion. Sort of like "passing the bill before they can read what's in it." Not to worry, though, in a few days the pollsters will tell them what their "principles" are.

They actually have "principles"?

This IS America, and most of us were brought up to show 'respect' to many, many people and situations. If a so-called 'professional' football player doesn't like showing respect, perhaps team owners should make that a part of their money contract! To hell with these disrespectful players for what they're teaching our kids. I, for one, am explaining to my grandchildren how they're disrespecting our country AND themselves by creating a problem, drawing attention to themselves instead of the actual football game they're playing in. Many of them playing very poorly as well!

They are actually professional athletes not so called. And yes the owners if they wanted to they can go ahead and have a clause on the contract stopping them from kneeling. Just like they have a clause where they can not ride a motorcycle or go whitewater rafting. It’s much easier to explain this one to my kids that’s for sure. I found it pretty tough trying to explain to my kids on how the president is talking about “grabbing women by the”. With 2 daughters that was pretty interesting to say the least. Much easier than trying to explain to them on why the president is trying to protect those very fine people of Virginia with the torches looking like they were on a mission. But you are here bitching about someone kneeling when they play a song. You sir have you priorities all fucked up.

Of course the fact the US does not respect them as unarmed blacks that keep getting shot/murdered by police and nothing happens to them doesn't seem to matter? Just another racist dog whistle Trump on top of many others. ............... That these pols can't stand for that shows they have no backbone or decent human beings........... What has the repub party become?

Please name at least decessed African-Americans by police in the last two years. And even one where police were not cleared. So, you will likely habe one or two, and that's ALL the unarmed black men you will have who were shot by police. Sounds like an epidemic. Epidemic of knuckleheads boycotting.

Only about 1% of the blacks that get shot, are shot by the law enforcement! The majority of the shootings are black on black crime!

And it will continue! SHAME on those blacks!

@jerryd YOU are a disgusting jerk off! What you're saying is BOLOGNA and you know it, you jerk. Your racist dog whistle comment makes no sense at all, as usual. Probably because you suck big ones!

Thank you Rep Mast!

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