The NFL just violated the First Amendment of the Constitution with its ban on players taking a knee in protest of injustices among the black community during the playing of the National Anthem before league games.

That amendment says: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Players have a constitutional right to protest and the players union should address this grievance with the league and if it does not get proper remedy there should file a lawsuit.

There is no law that says you have to stand for the National Anthem. We stand as part of tradition and respect for our country. But you can’t legislate something that is unconstitutional.

I wrote a column a few years ago titled “2,000 Stand-ups” during which I described the many times I had stood for the playing of the National Anthem while covering Washington Husky football games and Seattle Mariners baseball games (there are others, too, including high school games, a couple Seahawk games and some I have forgotten).

My point in the column was that it became a tedious and obligatory routine that sometimes disrupted my thought process in the middle of writing something and that I often stumbled to attention and quickly fell back into writing mode as soon as the anthem ended. I wasn’t being discourteous to our National Anthem or flag, but just caught in the middle of some serious writing thoughts.

But if somebody like Colin Kaepernick or Eric Reid, two players that obviously have been blackballed from the NFL for their protest stands, wants to take a knee or sit during the anthem’s playing, I’m all in with them. It’s a good way to draw attention to the injustices that occur on a daily basis in our country, and should give us the chance to discuss and to seek answers to the problems they and others see and suffer from.

Instead of doing something illegal like banning the protests, NFL owners should reach out to the Kaepernicks and Reads in the league (and I’m sure there are a lot more players who have experienced the same injustices) and seek a solution for the problems.

I applaud New York Jets co-owner Christopher Johnson for standing up for the players. In a story in the Dailey Beast, Johnson said he would cover any of his players’ finds should they decided to kneel.

“Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest,” Johnson told Newsday. “There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t.”

Our complicated issues in our society cannot be solved by banning kneeling. We must rid ourselves of those who see skin color as a problem. We must rid ourselves of those who spew hate instead of love.

I will never understand how a skin color can be so devastating, not just to those who are black or brown, but to whites who turn hateful to people of color.

Skin color never hurt anybody. In fact, plenty of whites spend a lot of time trying to darken their skin through exposure to the sun. People are people no matter the skin color. They are us. We are all one under one God.

Treat the injustices in the world. Don’t treat the kneelers.

Protests will continue here and elsewhere. It’s the way to draw attention to the problem. But let’s not blame the messenger. Put the blame where it belongs – on the institutions and people who are clearly racist.

Get rid of hate.

Bring on the love.

That’s enough for today.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.