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LeBron James defends NFL protests: 'It's not about the disrespect of our flag'

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By Kelly Terez

Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(CLEVELAND) — NBA All-Star LeBron James spoke to the press on Monday following Sunday’s protests around the NFL, in which many players took a knee during the national anthem in support of equality.

“It’s powerful what all these athletes are doing,” James said. “It’s not about the disrespect of our flag and the military that’s made this world free.”

He added: “It’s about equality.”

The peaceful protests that the Cleveland Cavaliers star was referring to took place on Sunday, after President Donald Trump called for the NFL to “fire or suspend” those who kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!” Trump tweeted on Sunday, which followed similar comments he made Friday in Huntsville, Alabama.

James commented on the support that NFL players got not only from teammates but from team owners as well, some of whom also took the field Sunday in solidarity. He said what Trump said over the weekend “frustrated me.”

“He used the sports platform to divide us. Sports is so amazing, what sports can do for everyone, no matter shape, size, race; brings people together like no other. I’m not going to let one individual no matter the power, the impact he or she should have ever use sport as a platform to divide us,” he said. “The people run this country, not one person. And damn sure not him.”

And while James hasn’t considered taking a knee when the NBA’s regular season starts up again in a couple of weeks, he said he will continue to speak out and educate the people of Ohio.

“I’m doing OK for myself, my family is doing OK,” he said. “Even if we weren’t doing OK financially, I’d still be trying to find a way to inspire the youth. … Personally, my voice is more important than my knee.”

But James didn’t take anything away from the movement that former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started last pre-season, when he was the first to take a knee during the national anthem. In fact, he wishes he could hire Kaepernick.

“I salute Colin for being as powerful as he was,” he said. “I wish I owned an NFL team right now. I’d sign him today.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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The man that keeps Fenway Park running has never watched an entire game

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By TJH

ABC News(BOSTON) — Donnie Gardiner, the facilities superintendent at Fenway Park in Boston, has been working behind-the-scenes for nearly 30 years, keeping the home of the Red Sox running.

He was originally hired as a contractor in 1989 before assuming his current position a decade later.

Gardiner said he usually begins his day around 6 a.m. and typically works 17-18 hours.

“I love the early mornings,” he said. “But more than anything, I know what I can get accomplished between 6-6:30 and 9 o’clock in the morning. After 9 o’clock the building starts waking up. And the phone starts ringing. So I really trying and accomplish as much as I can early in the day.”

Although he has worked at the stadium for almost three decades, Gardiner has never watched a full game. He said that it’s easy to get caught up in what’s happening on the field, but his main concern is what’s going on inside the building itself.

“A lot of people in the company know that I’ve never watched a game. I take a little ribbing for it,” Gardiner said.

Though he’s never watched a game, the responsibilities that his job entails are the main motivation that keep him so committed to his work.

“I enjoy the responsibility and the accountability. I’m a driven person. I’ve always looked at my life and there’s nothing I cannot do. You know, I’m a problem solver. My job is to keep this place up and running. My job in a nutshell is to protect the owner’s investment and to keep our fans safe. And I do take that really seriously,” Gardiner said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweets support of NFL protests against national anthem

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By TJH

Sean Gardner / Stringer / Getty Images(LEXINGTON, N.C.) — NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Monday he supported the NFL players and owners who protested on Sunday in response to President Donald Trump’s criticism of players who kneel during the national anthem.

Earnhardt wrote on Twitter that all Americans are granted the rights to “peaceful protests” before quoting former President John F. Kennedy.

http://abcnewsradioonline.com//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable,” Earnhardt wrote.

Earnhardt posted the tweet on Monday less than 30 minutes after Trump tweeted that he was “so proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans” for not “disrespecting” the country and the flag.

At a rally in Alabama last Friday, Trump suggested that NFL owners should fire players who protest the national anthem.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of the NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now?'” the president said.

In response, NFL owners took a unified stand against Trump’s comments at the start of several games on Sunday.

Several NASCAR team owners and executives said Sunday that they would not want anyone in their organization to protest, The Associated Press reported.

Among them was Richard Childress — the longtime team owner for Earnhardt’s father — who said protesting would “get you a ride on a Greyhound bus,” according to the AP.

“Anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in,” Childress said. “So many people gave their lives for it. This is America.”

Earnhardt has spoken out against the president’s policies in the past. In January, the legendary NASCAR driver had a Twitter conversation with a fan in response to Trump’s immigration ban, saying that “America is created by immigrants.”

“[My] fam immigrated from Germany in 1700s escaping religious persecution,” Earnhardt said.

In April, Earnhardt, 42, announced that he would retire at the end of the year after driving for 18 seasons and competing in more than 600 races.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Tom Brady speaks out against Trump's 'divisive' comments on players taking a knee

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By TJH

ABC News(NEW YORK) — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was the latest “friend” of President Donald Trump’s to speak out against his comments this past weekend about NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem.

Trump called for the NFL to “fire or suspend” those who kneel during the opening anthem.

“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!” Trump tweeted on Sunday, which followed similar comments he made Friday at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama.

Brady, who has said in the past that he’s friends with the current commander-in-chief, spoke out Monday, saying “I certainly disagree with what he said. I thought it was just divisive.”

After Trump’s comments, various teams either took a knee together on Sunday or stayed in the locker room during the national anthem.

Brady, 40, was interviewed on WEEI’s “Kirk and Callahan” show Monday morning, one day after he linked arms with his fellow Patriots to show unity.

“Like I said, I just want to support my teammates,” Brady said of his actions. “I am never one to say, ‘Oh, that is wrong. That is right.’ I do believe in what I believe in. I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust … I have been blessed to be in locker rooms with guys all over the United States over the course of my career … The one thing about football is it brings so many guys together — guys you would never have the opportunity to be around.”

Brady said what makes a football team so special is that “we’re all different.”

“I think everyone has the right to do whatever they want to do. If you don’t agree, that is fine. You can voice your disagreement, I think that is great. It’s part of our democracy. As long as it is done in a peaceful, respectful way, that is what our country has been all about,” he continued.

Brady followed in the footsteps of another Trump friend, Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, who released a statement Sunday admitting how “deeply disappointed” he was “by the tone of the comments made by the president.”

“I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger. There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics,” Kraft said.

The taking of a knee by NFL players began last year when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick declined to stand during the national anthem before a preseason game against San Diego.

He later explained to reporters that he was doing so to peacefully incite “significant change” regarding racial oppression in this country.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Trump's slam against kneeling NFL players was 'attack on our brotherhood': Ravens player

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By TJH

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A Baltimore Ravens player who locked arms with teammates in a game Sunday in response to President Donald Trump’s criticism of players who kneel in protest during the national anthem said Trump’s remarks were a “direct attack on our brotherhood.”

Ben Watson, tight end for the Baltimore Ravens, was among the players who stood arm in arm during the “Star-Spangled Banner” ahead of the team’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London on Sunday.

Watson told ABC News’ Michael Strahan on “Good Morning America” Monday that the protest by Ravens players was “organic.”

“When we got on the field, some guys kneeled, some guys decided to kneel that didn’t before,” he said. “Some guys locked arms.”

“I locked arms,” he said.

Players and team owners across the league responded yesterday and over the weekend to Trump’s slamming players such as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling in protest during the national anthem. Kaepernick, who began the silent action in the 2016 preseason, told the media he was protesting against the treatment of blacks in the United States.

Trump at a rally Friday night in Huntsville, Alabama, said teams should fire players who kneel during the anthem.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out,'” the president said.

Watson said Trump’s words “cut deep” for the Ravens.

“We felt as many others did that this was a direct attack on our brotherhood,” he told Strahan.

Watson said he hadn’t previously agreed with Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the national anthem, but he said the president’s remarks suggested players don’t have the right to speak out on important issues.

“There was a tremendous amount of emotion and a tremendous amount of hurt” over Trump’s words, Watson said. “Obviously, the name-calling is something we don’t [stand] for but even to imply that we don’t have the right to express ourselves in that way is something that we really took to heart.”

Watson added that he has long been concerned about the same issues that prompted Kaepernick’s protest.

“I haven’t kneeled, but the reasons [Kaepernick] decided to kneel — the police brutality the excessive force, as he said, the impression of different people of color — those are all concerns of mine since even before he decided to kneel… my feelings have not changed about those issues.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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