Kaepernick has repeatedly said that his protest had nothing to do with the US military. But even before Trump became president, American sports, and football in particular, have been increasingly militarized, almost becoming a brand extension of the US armed forces. The Pentagon pays the NFL millions of dollars each year to host patriotic events during games, which include full-field displays of the flag.

“[Patriotism] has been conflated with a bumper-sticker kind of flag-waving and with the military only,” Costas added, “so that people cannot see that in his own way, Colin Kaepernick, however imperfectly, is doing a patriotic thing.”

On Real Time with Bill Maher Friday night, Costas suggested that before the national anthem is performed, NFL stadium announcers should say “Please stand for the national anthem and the ideals it represents,” rather than simply, “Please stand.” That, Costas argued, might help angry fans understand that the flag represents more than just the US military, and that kneeling during the song is not necessarily a slight to servicemen and women.

Costas was far from the only person close to the game to criticize Trump’s grasp of the issue. Even those who have called themselves friends or supporters of the US president came out against his remarks: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who once called himself a “good friend” of Trump’s but generally goes out of his way to remain apolitical, called the president’s comments ”divisive.” Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a longtime friend of Trump’s, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the tone of Trump’s comments. Shahid Khan, the Jacksonville Jaguars owner who donated $1 million to the president’s inauguration committee, joined arms with his players in solidarity with their protest.

Watch Costas’ full 15-minute spot, which also touched on the NFL’s concussion issue, on CNN here.

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