Dungy's Experience With Anthem: There Was Time I Didn't Stand

Colin Kaepernick may have started a movement when he made the decision to stage a protest during the national anthem this year.

The 49ers quarterback, in Week 1 alone, has picked up quite a following, as he attempts to raise awareness for social injustice in the United States. 

Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall took a knee in the 2016 opener, 49ers safety Eric Reid joined, four Dolphins players - including Arian Foster - partook in the protest Sunday, second-year Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters raised his fist before the Chiefs game, and the entire Seahawks team interlocked arms during the anthem before their Week 1 contest. 

The anthem protest has also seen participation outside the NFL, from soccer star Megan Rapinoe to high schools around America.

Prior to Sunday Night Football on NBC, Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy weighed in on the matter of the protest, drawing from personal experiences.

Following are highlights from Football Night In America on NBC, in which Dungy participated in a dialogue with Dan Patrick:

Patrick to Dungy on National Anthem demonstrations: "As a former coach, what did you think when you saw what was happening in Seattle and other places around the NFL today?"

Dungy: "I really appreciated it. When I coached, the National Anthem was very special to me. We practiced the National Anthem in training camp with our players. We videotaped it. I showed the rookies how it should be done. We wanted it done professionally, with pride. But I would support even those Dolphins players who kneeled. If they came to me and said, ‘Coach, we want to do this because we really think it's important.' I would support that."

Patrick: "When were your beliefs about the flag and National Anthem formed?"

Dungy: "In 1968, I was a 12-year-old kid. Martin Luther King had just gotten shot. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were at the '68 Olympics with the bowed heads. And there were African-Americans all over the country at that time trying to decide whether we should stand up for the National Anthem.

I talked to my dad about it. My dad was a teacher. He had enlisted in the service to fight in World War II. And he did that even though he knew when he came back he wouldn't be able to ride in the front of some buses. He wouldn't be able to teach in white schools. But he fought for our country. And when I asked him what I should do, he said, ‘Do what you think is going to help make the situation better.'"

Patrick: "I know that you have stressed that with players. If you do this, tell me what you're doing that is going to make this a positive. Don't just do it because Colin Kaepernick's doing it."

Dungy: "Exactly. And there was a time when I didn't stand up for the National Anthem. But as I grew as a Christian man, I felt like that wasn't the right thing to do for me. There was something that I could do to make it better. So when I saw racial injustice that I perceived, I stood for the National Anthem but I bowed my head and I prayed that God would make us a country that really was the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.' I thought that's the way I personally could protest and make the situation better."

Patrick: "Your dad's no longer with us. How do you think he'd feel if he saw these protests right now for a man who fought in World War II?"

Dungy: "As a veteran, he would not be offended. He would tell them the same thing he told me. He would say if you really believe what you're doing is going to make things better, do it because that's why we fought to make America the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.' So people who look differently or even think differently can still have their views expressed."

NBC Sports media services contributed to this report

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