-- ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe said Sunday he believes players should stand for the national anthem but that protests are a "right'' and "to each their own.''
Wolfe sent a statement to ESPN's Josina Anderson that outlined why he stands for the anthem and why he believes others should as well. But Wolfe also addressed those who have knelt or stood during the anthem and may in the future.
Wolfe's statement comes after comments during a weekend rally in Alabama from President Donald Trump that players who refuse to stand for the national anthem should be "fired" by NFL owners. The comments have drawn widespread reaction from NFL owners and players as well as commissioner Roger Goodell and former commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
"I stand because I respect the men who died in real battles so I have the freedom to battle on the field. Paying tribute to the men and women who have given their lives for our freedom is why I stand. But everyone these days likes to find a reason to protest and that's their right. It's America and you are free to speak your mind. I just feel it's disrespectful to the ones who sacrificed their lives and it's the wrong platform. But like I said to each their own it's AMERICA! The greatest country in the world and if you don't think we are the greatest country in the world and you reside here, then why do you stay? A lot worse places in the world to call home. Proud to be an American.''
After the Broncos' 26-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills, Wolfe said, as a human being, "we're allowed to feel any way we want to feel about any situation" and that he's based his opinions on social injustices that he's experienced during his lifetime.
"I come from poverty," Wolfe said. "For me, it's not a black and white thing; it's a rich and poor thing. The social injustices are always toward the less fortunate. People who don't have money are the ones who are looked down upon because they're on government assistance.
"I was on government assistance my whole life, until I got drafted. I was on food stamps. I had $7 when I got drafted, so I know what it's like [for people] to treat you different, like you're dumb, like you're uneducated. I know what that feels like."
Wolfe has previously said he supported people's right to protest, including when linebacker Brandon Marshall knelt during the national anthem before eight games last season in part to protest the use of force by police. Wolfe also has consistently said he personally believes everyone should stand for the anthem.
"With the violence that's going on, the protests that are going on, I think that people really need to just sit down and listen to each other," Wolfe said. "Just listen to what each other has to say and maybe we can come up with a plan that will make everybody happy. That's probably not going to happen, because it's impossible to make everybody happy."