Earlier this week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear that he didn’t agree with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick‘s decision to kneel during the national anthem, saying, “I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don’t live in a perfect society. On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that.”

But NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith takes issue with Goodell’s use of the word “patriotism,” which suggests that Kaepernick, by protesting, is something other than that.

“I’m always sensitive to the labels that the league and media want to attach to our players,” Smith told ProFootballTalk. “When someone interjects labels like ‘patriotism’ when this issue is discussed, I’m concerned about whether it’s interpreted as a method to portray someone like Colin Kaepernick as unpatriotic. If so, it completely drowns the point that he and players like him are exercising a right protected by the Constitution, which is secured by thousands of men and women who keep us safe and is therefore an affirmation of what this country stands for.”

Kaepernick, who explained last month that he’s protesting to bring awareness to those who are oppressed in this country, isn’t alone. Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane and Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall have also knelt during the national anthem, and the Seahawks could take part in a team protest before the regular-season opener on Sunday.

These players have Smith’s full support.

“The position of the union is pretty clear and at its core pretty simple,” he explained. “We love it when our players understand and embrace issues in their own communities. We applaud that.”

Source: CBS Sports / NFLPA concerned Goodell’s comments on Colin Kaepernick makes QB look unpatriotic