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Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback who’s been accused of sexual assault by two separate women, has weighed in on San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick’s controversial decision to sit during the National Anthem as a protest of police brutality.

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In an interview this morning with ESPN radio hosts Mike & Mike, Roethlisberger expressed his disappointment in Kaepernick, saying:

“When it comes to the National Anthem and the flag, I think it stands for something different. You know, like you said, family, brothers, my grandfather served in the Navy—people that have served this country—men and women who’ve lost their me that’s the National Anthem we stand and support because they give us the freedom to play this game. We are so, so lucky to play a game that we love...and that’s because we have the freedom that soldiers have given us.”

Freedom in America is a relative concept, of course. It’d be nice if that freedom extended to a black person’s ability to survive a routine pullover, for example. It’d be nice if a woman in America could feel free to go to a NFL quarterback’s room to fix a TV without fearing being sexually assaulted. And it’d be nice for a woman in America to feel free to press charges against her accused rapist without being intimidated out of it by his fans, his legal team, and the media.


(Kaepernick himself was involved in a “suspicious incident” in Miami in 2014. He was exonerated following an investigation.)