NFL owners have the right to limit protests at football games, Hall of Famer Joe Namath said Tuesday, but still, he respects the reason that the protests are happening.
"Ownership has ownership . . . If somebody starts walking through here carrying a sign, what are the powers that be at Fox going to say to you?" Namath told Fox News' "Fox and Friends" program. "'Excuse me. Go do that somewhere else. Don't do it in the workplace.'"
However, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling when the national anthem was being played, it was to point out "some injustice that has been done to the black race," Namath told the program.
"Obviously when you look — and I say obviously, some of these dash cams and shootings that were done to unarmed people," Namath said. "He was reaching out to try to get it more investigated. So that's where this oppression thing comes in."
The NFL owners do "own the stage," and have rules against many different actions, including not allowing players not to wear "different signs on their shoes," Namath said.
"That's because they've been told to, but no one told Colin Kaepernick prior to that that they had to," Namath said about kneeling. "We just assumed it was the right thing to do. It's always been the right thing to do, to live in this great country, thank the good Lord."
But when asked if he'd kneel before the National Anthem if the rest of his team would, Namath said he does not know.
"I'm not there," he replied, "but I've never walked in a black man's shoes, either, and I don't know. Over the years when you look around it, hey, some of the things you see that have been done, are they fair? Life's not fair. Children are born with handicaps. Life's not fair. But if we can get some things straightened out, we need to work on it."
Namath also said he disagrees with former Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka, who said in an interview Sunday that there has not been any "oppression that I know of in the last 100 years."
"Well, look up the meaning of oppression," Namath said. "Look up the definition of oppression, and you understand that it's obviously taken place."
The former quarterback, meanwhile, is part of the Namath Neurological Research program, which is trying to help people with brain injuries get treatment.
"I experienced the treatment between 2012 and 2013 where I had the left side of my brain, many of the cells weren't getting the blood flow," Namath said. "They were dark. They weren't functioning. I went through 120 oxygen treatments, hyperbaric dives. They gradually came back. And as of March, I had a brain scan and the brain is beautiful. It's functioning."
Namath said he's seen people go through the program's study at the Jupiter Medical Center in Florida who were not able to lift their arms, or communicate, and now they're in the workforce.
He said while he was playing, he got hit from all sides, but he does not believe professional football will ever go away.
"It's a great sport," namath said. "We're always going to want to watch it. I would love to watch it. It's tough, man. It's good. It's violent. And that has that sex appeal that those tight pants that those guys wear out there. So that's not going away."
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