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Political analysts, lawmakers weigh in on NFL protests

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – As President Trump continues to hammer down on his opinion on the NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, political experts continue to wonder how all of the political fallout will land.

“It’s fascinating to see it play out on a very national stage, and certainly for something like football which is more entertainment value and generally seen as less political,” political analyst Laura Wilson said.

Just one day after more than 100 NFL players took part in protests, or avoided the anthem celebration completely, Wilson says it’s unclear where the conversation surrounding the protests will go, particularly due to the fact that issues surrounding the American flag or patriotism are often cause for divisiveness  in and of themselves.

“In some ways it might make things more divisive, but at this point I’m not sure anything could be more divisive,” she said.

Leaders with the ALCU of Indiana say at its heart, the issue comes down to freedom of speech

“We as Americans have a constitutional right, and dare I say a duty to express ourselves to government when we believe expression is necessary,” legal director Ken Falk said.

Hoosier lawmakers are also speaking up. Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young both released statements Monday.

Senator Donnelly’s read:

"There is much that unites us as Hoosiers and Americans, including sports, but unfortunately, the President’s comments are dividing Americans instead of bringing them together. While I would choose to stand for the national anthem with my hand over my heart, I know that by and large these are men who care about and are involved in their communities. The United States is the greatest country on the face of the planet and together we can achieve extraordinary things. And to really work together effectively, we need to listen to each other. I hope we all listen more to each other as this conversation continues."

Senator Young’s read:

“As a Marine, like all of the other men and women who wore a uniform, I served for the right of free speech and right of everyone to seek a better life.  When we all stand together for the National Anthem, we unite as a nation to honor our country, American ideals and those who served to make that possible."

Indiana Congressman Todd Rokita also released a statement. On his Facebook page he wrote:

"President Trump's comments about NFL players who kneel during the national anthem needed to be said. Americans are disgusted watching athletes who make hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars disrespect our great nation--a nation that affords them the opportunity for that type of success. The NFL should keep politics out of the game. NFL owners and the league should have created a standard of conduct on this issue so that players go into the league agreeing with the patriotism of the sport and the fans. There are past injustices that we are still addressing as a nation but actions such as kneeling during the national anthem only fuel division, they don't bring us together or help redress wrongs of the past. Our nation isn't perfect, but it’s the most perfect the world has ever known. We should respect it and work to better it for future generations."

Ahead of the possibility that the protests could spill over into the college game, the NCAA released the following statement:

“As an integral part of higher education, the NCAA values expression and freedom of speech at championship events. We expect the expressions will be peaceful and will not interfere with the timely, safe conduct of the event.”