Wichita youth football players sound off on NFL protests

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita youth football players are giving their two cents about recent NFL athletes protesting during the national anthem.

It was business as usual for the Wichita Bears football team on Tuesday. As the coaches prepped their squad for Saturday’s big game, the athletes listened intently.

“It’s fun. I like waking up on Saturday’s knowing I can just get up and hit people,” said player Jack Kerr.

Several of the Bears players said they hope one day their football skills will get them to the NFL.

“Once you make an open-field tackle by yourself and you have like 50,000 people cheering for you and saying your name, it feels cool,” Kerr said.

Running back LJ Phillips, 13, said he looks up to the men who play in the NFL.

“They go in every day taking hits and getting paid doing it and loving the game,” said Phillips.

KSN asked the athletes how they feel when they see some of their NFL idols protesting during the national anthem.

“I see them bonding together and working together and standing up for what is right. I don’t think they are disrespecting the military. I think they are standing up for what is right,” Phillips said.

Phillips said if he was an NFL player he would take a knee during the national anthem to stand up for his beliefs.

“I love the military because my uncle is in the military, so I don’t want to disrespect the country, but I am going to do what is right,” he said. “You are standing up for equal rights.”

Kerr, 11, had a different opinion.

“I would stand,” Kerr said. “I feel like it’s not right for our country for people who are serving because if I was in the army and I see them taking a knee I’d feel like I’m not doing my job good.”

Bears Coach Mike Johnson told KSN the protests have not been brought up at practice or at any of the team’s football games. He said it’s likely because the league doesn’t play the national anthem before games. He said however, if his athletes wanted to talk about the protests, he would be willing to have a conversation.

“I’d tell them, just like I tell them in anything, you have your own thoughts and your own decisions that you have to make and whatever decision you make, that’s the decision you make,” said Johnson.

KSN talked with other youth coaches around the area. They all said they haven’t had any issues with kids wanting to or not wanting to protest during the national anthem. The coaches said their athletes are focused on the game of football.

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