FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – From President Trump to professional athletes, there is no shortage of opinions when it comes to taking a knee during the national anthem, but not everyone is choosing sides. Former Wayne High School standout and Carolina Panthers Punter Jason Baker said he’s not sure what he’d chose to do during the national anthem if he was still on the field during these times.
He said he’d have a hard time kneeling, but he’d never condemn a teammate who would.
“There’s some disappointment I feel, but this is the United State of America,” Baker said. “This is how we got here.Stuff gets stirred up then we sort it out.”
Since retiring from the NFL in 2012 Baker has dedicated a lot of his time to philanthropic work. Much of it has been with veterans.
As what athletes chose to do during the national anthem gains more and more attention, Baker hasn’t forgotten those veterans he’s met.
“I think anyone who has ever done anything to uphold the lifestyles that we enjoy in the United State of America and the freedoms we have absolutely needs to be recognized and supported,” Baker said.
At the same time, Baker believes if he was still on the field he’d respect all his teammates’ decisions.
“I’d be ignorant and foolish to sit here and tell you I have a significant degree of empathy towards what a minority in the Unites States goes through,” Baker said. “For me to sit here and say well shoot they should stand up and acknowledge [the national anthem] they’re American experience is different than mine probably.”
Baker has two young children at home and doesn’t get to switch off the Disney Channel much to watch the games. However, he’s read a lot about the protest over the last year. It’s a discussion he hopes will continue.
“Now at some point people will hopefully start discussing why,” Baker said. “Then what is the cause of it, and what needs to change to resolve it.”
Last season then San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick started sitting and keeling during the national anthem in protest. He explained it was to recognized the racial injustices that still exist in the United States.
This weekend, dozens of players followed suit after President Trump challenged NFL owners to fire players who choose to kneel.