Unlike the President, Most Americans Know NFL Kneelers Aren't Protesting the Flag

America gets the movement Colin Kaepernick started even if President Trump doesn't.  A new poll released on Saturday by HuffPost/YouGov found 57 percent of Americans knew that players were protesting police violence when they kneeled during the national anthem—up from 48 percent of Americans who knew what kneelers were protesting in September.

Most Americans Know NFL Kneelers Aren't Protesting the Flag Members of the Dallas Cowboys link arms and kneel during the National Anthem before the start of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 25, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Meanwhile, 66 percent of self-described football diehards said they knew NFL protests were in response to police brutality, which was 13 percent more than fans who knew why protesters were kneeling in September. Only 12 percent (down two percent from September's poll) believed, like Trump, that players were protesting the flag; 26 percent (down 20 percent) believed the players were protesting the president.

Although conversations surrounding the protests have been mixed, with viewers split 49 to 36 percent on kneeling during the protests, the majority of Americans (52 percent) disapprove of Trump’s rhetoric towards NFL players’ decision to protest; only 36 percent agree with him.

Last year, Kaepernick, then a San Francisco 49er, kneeled during the national anthem at the start of NFL games, as a way to protest police brutality and the killings of unarmed black men by law enforcement. Since then the quarterback, who led the team to the Super Bowl in 2013, was released from his contract and is still an unsigned free agent. However, his efforts have resulted in many other players kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games.

Their actions have enraged some viewers, including Trump, who has suggested that players who don’t stand for the anthem should be fired as the act is disrespectful to the American flag and the U.S. military. It's now clear that the majority of Americans know what the gesture really means. 

Trump launched an attack against the NFL in September when he urged NFL owners and coaches to force players to stand “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” the president said during a rally for Republican Senator Luther Strange.

Following those comment, along with a number of tweets condemning players for exercising their First Amendment right, players, coaches and some owners responded by joining protesters and kneeling during the national anthem.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted October 10-11 and surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults.

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