John Mara prefers Giants stand for anthem but ‘supports’ kneeling

John Mara is standing with Giants players who protest racism and social injustice.

Including any who chose to kneel during the national anthem when games start.

“My preference is that everybody stand,” the Giants’ co-owner said Thursday, “but if you decide in your conscience that kneeling is the right thing to do, I’m going to support your right to do that because I believe in the First Amendment. I believe in the right of people, especially the players, to take a knee in silent protest if that’s what they want to do.”

Mara said he plans to discuss the hot-button issue with the team sometime before Week 1. The Giants opened last week’s scrimmage by airing a video featuring Mara and prominent players promoting unity to prompt systemic change.

John Mara standing with Giants players.Joseph E. Amaturo

“My position back in 2017 is the same as it is now,” Mara said.

As part of the newly launched #TogetherBlue campaign, the Giants are partnering with nine local organizations to address areas such as poverty, homelessness, education, substance abuse, criminal justice and police-community relations.

“What makes it easy for me to [support them] is when I see how much work they are doing in the community and how important what is going on in this country is to each of them,” Mara said. “They back it up with actions, not just words. Our players are very engaged in working in a lot of different areas.”

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Even though it is unlikely fans will be in the stadium this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mara understands players kneeling won’t sit well with those who interpret it as disrespectful of the military.

The league has changed its stance this offseason and commissioner Roger Goodell admitted he should have listened sooner to former quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s message about inequality.

“I understand and accept the fact that is not going to be necessarily popular with certain segments of our fan base,” Mara said, “but I think it’s the right thing to do.”