Jim Caldwell: Lions not mandated to stand during national anthem

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Jim Caldwell will not tell his Detroit Lions players whether to stand during the national anthem.

While the Detroit Lions' coach said Monday that he doesn’t necessarily agree with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s form of protest in which he sat during the National Anthem on Saturday, he recognized Kaepernick did not break any laws and “he’s open to expressing himself.”

If a player on the Lions chose to do that, Caldwell said he would want to hear the player’s view on the subject.

“Like anything else, we discuss it and we talk about it and see exactly what his thoughts were and are,” Caldwell said. “But the fact of the matter is what we won’t do is we won’t mandate an action for him. We won’t tell him to stand up or tell him to sit down or whatever that might be. Obviously, he hasn’t done anything that’s against the law.”

Caldwell said he addresses these issues with players on both sides to make sure they are properly informed and are thinking before they make a decision on what they would like to do. He recognizes his players – like everyone else in the country – are part of society and have their own issues within the society. He just wants to make sure their decisions are well-informed and “if they feel strongly about something, I certainly don’t mind if they speak their mind.”

He has been supportive of players taking stands in the past – from Reggie Bush wearing an "I Can’t Breathe" shirt during pregame warmups in 2014 to linebacker DeAndre Levy’s stance against sexual assault and questioning the NFL during the offseason.

As for his reaction?

“My reaction is what he did is not against the law,” Caldwell said. “He’s expressing a feeling that he had. I don’t necessarily agree with what he does, but the fact of the matter is he’s open to expressing himself.

“Freedom of speech, freedom of religion in this country ... that’s a great thing about this country.”