Dale Earnhardt Jr. Breaks with NASCAR Owners to Support Protesting Athletes

Dale Earnhardt Jr., pictured on April 22, 2017, will retire after 18 seasons and more than 603 starts
GETTY/AFP/File Jared C. Tilton

National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) racing legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke with NASCAR owners, who threatened to fire athletes protesting the National Anthem, to support the protesters.

Earnhardt Jr. tweeted a quote from former President John F. Kennedy and said that “all Americans are granted rights to peaceful protests.”

NASCAR owners have been backing President Trump’s comments suggesting that NFL players should be fired for protesting the National Anthem.

“Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta’ be out of the country, period,” Richard Petty, owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, told the Associated Press. “What got ’em where they’re at? The United States.”

Petty, when asked if anyone who worked for Richard Petty Motorsports that protested the anthem would be fired, responded, “You’re right.”

Trump made the comments suggesting that NFL owners fire players who disrespect the National Anthem at a rally Friday in Alabama supporting Republican U.S. Senate candidate Luther Strange.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired. He’s fired!’” Trump told his supporters.

However, Trump’s comments sparked more protests from players, coaches, and team owners across the NFL during matches on Sunday.

Trump doubled down on his comments following Sunday’s NFL games, criticizing NFL players who kneeled during the National Anthem in protest of his remarks:

“Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable,” he wrote on Twitter.

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