Green Beret/NFL Vet Nate Boyer: Flag Protests "Hurt" But He'll Defend Them

Wants to see more understanding of all positions from all sides

Eric Dehm
January 31, 2018 - 11:49 am
Nate Boyer leads the Seattle Seahawks onto the field carrying the American flag

(Photo use courtesy of Nate Boyer)

Nate Boyer's story is a fascinating one. The list of jobs and accomplishments reads like something from a movie. In order, Boyer was a relief worker in Darfur, a Green Beret, a starter on the vaunted University of Texas Longhorns football team (despite never having played organized football prior to enrolling) and then a long snapper in the NFL, playing for the Seattle Seahawks. 

And yes, he's the one who convinced Colin Kaepernick to "take a knee" during the national anthem.

To be clear, Boyer suggested Kaepernick kneel as opposed to sitting on the bench, which Boyer found to be more disrespectful than the kneeling protests.

You might wonder why a man who worked alongside so many who sacrificed so much defending the flag, would support an NFL player doing something so many consider an insult. Boyer is quick to point out that his actions in approaching Kaepernick on the issue were based not in agreement with what the quarterback was doing, but in suggesting a better way to go about how he was doing it. And as far as the "why" question, the answer to that is clear in Boyer's mind: it's the right thing to do.

"One of the hardest things I've had to do in my life is defend people I don't necessarily agree with," Boyer said during an appearance on The Morning Briefing. "Because at the end of the day, what I fought for is those ultimate rights and freedoms. I don't have to like them or agree with them, but that's what I fought for. And so I always will lean on the side of rights and freedoms."

Photo courtesy Nate Boyer

Boyer, who describes his views as "Alt-Middle," says he's worked to try to understand the different points of view expressed by the protesters and the public  on the issue, something he addressed in a 2017 open letter to America, posted on ESPN.com. And he's hopeful that those who choose to protest during the anthem would do the same. He believes that's the key for Americans:

Find a way past what he sees as an untenable climate of everyone shouting over each other and "needing to be right."

"More voices of reason that have a platform, a large platform. I don't have that big of a voice compared to some of these people," Boyer said. "I truly believe that Colin Kapernick should be unifying our country and doing what he can to reach across and embrace people he doesn't agree with because I've done that and a lot of people have done that... and that goes for the exact same for people on the far right. You've got to reach across to people that you don't agree with."

As America waits to see whether there are protests at the Super Bowl, and as things move forward, Boyer does have a message for those who do choose to protest. One he hopes they take to heart as it comes from someone who has openly supported their actions.

"I just hope from a demonstrator or a protestor's standpoint they understand that even when people like me continue to defend you, it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt us," Boyer said. "It doesn't mean it doesn't bother a lot of us, but I'm still gonna defend you because those are the rights I fought for."

Photo courtesy Nate Boyer

Boyer currently appears in two major motion pictures currently in theaters, the based on a true story military action film "12 Strong" and the gritty crime drama "Den Of Thieves." He also co-founded, along with national sports broadcaster Jay Glazer, the non-profit Merging Vets And Players (MVP) which aims to help pro athletes and combat vets deal with similar issues faced as they transition to new lives and careers. 

You can listen to his full comments on the flag issue, and about the MVP organization below by clicking play, or downloading to listen later by clicking the share button and selecting download from the options.