VANCOUVER, Wash. -- The decision by the Seattle Seahawks to stay in the locker room during the national anthem on Sunday was met with mixed reaction from fans in the Portland area.
Some supported the team, while others reached out on social media to question if the players' behavior was respectful.
“I’m kind of torn by it,” said Patrick Mogan of Vancouver. Mogan was watching the Seahawks game at Big Al’s bowling alley and sports bar in Vancouver alongside several other fans.
“There is something here in our country that we need to deal with. And they’re trying to tell us that,” he said.
Mogan noted that he had several family members in the military, including his father who served in World War II. “They have fought for us. Our freedoms. And one of those freedoms is freedom of speech,” Mogan said. “You cannot squash – I don’t think anybody, including the NFL, from speaking.”
The Seahawks released a statement prior to Sunday’s game saying that the players wouldn’t participate in the national anthem.
The statement read in part: “Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms.”
“It was good. I’m glad that everybody stood up,” said Patrick Broussard, who was also watching at Big Al’s. “I’m glad that everybody collectively came together and was like: we understand what’s going on and we’re ok with you guys doing it. It was big to see the statements from just all teams in general,” he said.
Others questioned the players’ decision to protest the anthem specifically. “The national anthem is an American thing. They should respect that,” said Garrett Speyer of Vancouver.
Hundreds of viewers weighed in on the debate on KGW’s Facebook page, too. Kevin Wilson, a Navy veteran and Seahawks fan from Vancouver, commented that he wouldn’t be watching Sunday’s game. “I understand freedom of speech,” he commented on a post about the story. “There are more proactive ways to support a cause rather than to make a hurtful statement during our National Anthem.”
Back at Big Al’s several more fans, who declined to be quoted, told KGW they too were torn on the issue. “I hope is doesn’t divide us,” said Mogan. “We should be listening to each other. They have something to say and it’s something important.”