Alabama's Nick Saban: NFL protests are not meant to disrespect veterans

Alabama coach Nick Saban's Thursday night radio show called "Hey Coach" typically features fan questions that are the press conference equivalent of softballs.

The most recent edition took a more serious tone -- at least during one segment.

Saban was asked by a caller who said he is a military veteran about the protests by NFL players during the national anthem, and whether former players who didn't stand for the anthem would be allowed back on his sideline, according to BamaOnline's Charlie Potter.

"I don't think that what these people are doing is in any way, shape or form are meant to disrespect a veteran or somebody like yourself who has worked so hard, fought so hard, sacrificed so much for all of us to have the quality of life that we want to have," Saban said.

He went on to elaborate that, part of what makes this country great, is the ability to express yourself how you see fit.

"But one of the things that you also fought for and made sacrifice for was that we all could have the freedom to have choice, in terms of what we believe, what we did and what we said," Saban said. "Look, I respect people's individual rights. I have my opinion, in terms of what I would do and how I would do it. And I would not want to ever disrespect the symbols that represent the values of our country. But I also respect individual differences that other people have, and I think they have the right to express those. Whether it's our players or somebody else, whether I agree or disagree, I do think they have the right to do that."

It was certainly a well thought-out and reasoned response to a serious question in an otherwise jovial event that began with Saban discussing how he won a drag race against some guy in a "hot tamale Mustang" on Wednesday night.

It has been a hot topic on college football world this year. Northwestern announced that its players and coaches will come out of the tunnel locked arm-in-arm Saturday against Wisconsin, and LSU running back Derrius Guice suggested that the Tigers might do something to display unity against Troy. Most college football teams are inside the locker room when the national anthem is played, so an organized protest or display in conjunction with it -- similar to what transpired in the NFL last weekend -- is unlikely. 

The top-ranked Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0 SEC) host Ole Miss on Saturday night in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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