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Victor Cruz: 'You've got to respect the flag'

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- One night after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem, the entire New York Giants and New York Jets teams were on their feet as the song was played by the Northport (New York) High School Choir before their preseason matchup at MetLife Stadium.

Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz has his reasons for standing.

"I think, personally, the flag is the flag," Cruz said. "Regardless of how you feel about things that are going on in America today, and the things that are going on across the world with gun violence and things of that nature, you've got to respect the flag, and you've got to stand up with your teammates. It's bigger than just you, in my opinion.

"I think you go up there, you're with a team, and you go and you know you pledge your allegiance to the flag and sing the national anthem with your team and then you go about your business, whatever your beliefs are."

Kaepernick's decision to sit for the anthem was because of his views on the country's treatment of racial minorities.

Several Giants, including Cruz, didn't agree with his method of demonstration. Offensive lineman Justin Pugh went on Twitter Saturday afternoon and said he thought it was disrespectful to those who put their lives on the line to not stand for the anthem. Cruz explained why he wouldn't have gone that route.

"Colin is his own man. He decided to sit down and that is his prerogative, but on a personal standpoint, I think you have to stand up there with your team and understand that this game and what’s going on around this country are bigger than you," Cruz said.

The NFL doesn't have a rule that requires players to stand for the pregame anthems. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Saturday that "players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem."