SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Thursday after the Broncos closed their joint practice with the San Francisco 49ers, I asked John Elway, the team's president of football operations, about his stance on the national anthem protests again taking place in the NFL. Here's his full answer:
"My stance is that everybody has their right to do what they wish to do and their beliefs are their beliefs. That's why we live in this country. They have the right to display whatever they wish to display.
"I think one thing — where we stand and where I stand with the Broncos — is, 'That's OK and we will respect that and whatever you want to do is fine with us. But the bottom line is that can't get in the way with our main goal. And that is to compete for world championships.' I just don't want that pulling away from our team. It can pull (you) away, because it does get a lot of attention. The only thing that I would say to our players is to make sure it's not hurting your teammate. If the questions and everything — if the tenor changes of what goes on in these interviews and you're not talking about our next opponent, you're talking about what's going on in the world — that's not the best thing for our football team.
"So I only advise or tell our players this: I respect where you stand. But when you're doing anything, just understand what it's doing to our football team. I want these guys to understand we're football-first and we want to win football games. If we do that, everything's going to be fine. With that being said, I still respect that they have the right to do what they wish to do. But I just hope that when they do those types of things, that what they take into (account) is to think about their teammates first."