Broncos general manager John Elway has made his stance on kneeling during the national anthem public, and it is fraught with conditionals.
It comes a day after 49ers GM John Lynch spoke out on the protests, saying that while he respects players' rights to protest, he thinks that they're "divisive." Elway's Broncos are currently holding joint practices with the 49ers, so Elway decided to weigh in.
My stance is that everybody has their right to do what they wish to do and their beliefs are their beliefs. That's why we live in this country. They have the right to display whatever they wish to display. I think one thing -- where we stand and where I stand with the Broncos -- is, 'That's OK and we will respect that and whatever you want to do is fine with us. But the bottom line is that can't get in the way with our main goal. And that is to compete for world championships.'
I just don't want that pulling away from our team. It can pull (you) away, because it does get a lot of attention. The only thing that I would say to our players is to make sure it's not hurting your teammate. If the questions and everything -- if the tenor changes of what goes on in these interviews and you're not talking about our next opponent, you're talking about what's going on in the world -- that's not the best thing for our football team.
So I only advise or tell our players this: I respect where you stand. But when you're doing anything, just understand what it's doing to our football team. I want these guys to understand we're football-first and we want to win football games. If we do that, everything's going to be fine. With that being said, I still respect that they have the right to do what they wish to do. But I just hope that when they do those types of things, that what they take into (account) is to think about their teammates first.
It was a heck of a detailed response, particularly from someone who's been mum for so long. When he was asked about linebacker Brandon Marshall, who joined in on the protests last year, Elway emphasized the things Marshall did off the field to make his point.
"Brandon made a point last year, but he carried it forward. He just didn't make a stand on the field. He went out in the community and did something and talked to different people," Elway said. "He talked to law enforcement and got involved. I was proud of Brandon. Not only did he show his support but he went out and did something in the community."
Marshall was apparently kept in the dark about the team's response. According to Denver7, when they texted Marshall, he was excited about Elway's words.
"It felt great!" he told Denver 7 in a text. "I honestly never knew how the organization felt about what I did."
There were rumors during the 2016 offseason that the Broncos were pursuing Colin Kaepernick via trade, but ultimately nothing came of those rumors. Many people wondered whether or not Kaepernick's politics prevented the Broncos from ultimately pulling the trigger, a claim that Elway has emphatically denied. On the contrary, he's said that the Broncos are simply happy with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, who are currently competing for the starting job.
that the Broncos were looking for quarterback help earlier this month, calling them "fake news" via tweet.