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Matt Light on players kneeling: First time I'm ashamed to be a Patriot

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Cooks says anthem protest was about 'respect and unity' (0:24)

Brandin Cooks explains that the Patriots' anthem protest prior to the game was meant to take a stand for a need for respect and unity. (0:24)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When 17 New England Patriots players knelt during the national anthem before Sunday's game against the Houston Texans, it sparked a strong reaction from a player who was part of the franchise's first three Super Bowl championships.

"As a guy that's been there and helped set up the Patriot Way so they can walk in there and do what they do, it's beyond disheartening," former All-Pro offensive tackle Matt Light told the Boston Herald. "It's the first time I've ever been ashamed to be a Patriot. And I promise you I'm not the only one."

Light, who played for the Patriots from 2001 to 2011 and appeared in 155 regular-season games (153 starts), was present at Sunday's game. He told the Herald he was surprised that players knelt because of the detail that coach Bill Belichick applies to all situations.

"Nobody can force anybody to do anything in a situation like that. If he chooses to do it, he's going to do it," Light told the Herald. "But I'm going to tell you this much, with the amount of preparation and attention to detail, and all the things that happen in that organization, I'm really surprised that it wasn't dealt with so it didn’t get to that point."

Former Patriots receiver Troy Brown, who played for the team from 1993 to 2007, struck a more empathetic tone during his work as a postgame analyst on Comcast Sports Net. Brown said he was disappointed that fans booed players who knelt.

"I was kind of surprised after the president said what he had to say that they would boo the players who took a knee. Maybe they don't understand that this is in protest to what he had to say about one or two other players on their team and other teams who took a knee because he thought there was some racial inequality in this country," Brown said.

After the game, when asked about his players' reaction to the national anthem, Belichick said, "I'm just going to talk about the game. I'll deal with that later."