The Bachelorette’s James Taylor Defends Tweet Calling Out NFL Players for Taking a Knee

James Taylor Bachelorette
James Taylor on ‘Bachelorette’ Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images

The Bachelorette’s James Taylor defended his tweets calling out NFL players who choose to kneel during the National Anthem on Sunday, September 24.

In a since-deleted tweet, Taylor, who vied for JoJo Fletcher’s affections on season 12 of the ABC dating series, expressed his disapproval of the athletes who took a knee. “I stood for the Anthem in Pittsburgh,” the reality star captioned a throwback photo on Tuesday, September 26, in which he’s sporting a black eye on a Bachelorette group date with the Pittsburgh Steelers. “Just saying. Comment if you stand for freedom.” (Though he removed it from Twitter, the image still remains on his Instagram.)

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Shortly after, the singer-songwriter took to Twitter again to share an additional message about he Pledge of Allegiance.

After receiving backlash for his sentiments, the Nashville native defended his views in an exclusive interview with Us Weekly. “For me, there is so much injustice in this world,” Taylor said. “There are some terrible things going on. There always has been, there is today and there always will be. Does that mean you shouldn’t talk about it or stand for it? No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying is that there is a time and a place for it. If you go around the whole United States, the world, everyone would have something they don’t agree with. There is some injustice that has been done to them. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to say the National Anthem and respect our flag and our country. It’s just not the time or the place in my opinion and I’ll definitely stand behind that.”

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JoJo Fletcher and James Taylor Bachelorette
JoJo Fletcher and James Taylor on ‘Bachelorette’ Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty Images

As for what he’d say to those criticizing his views on social media? “I’d give them a big hug,” explained the Bachelor Nation alum. “I love them all. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and part of that can be hating on me. It doesn’t offend me. Those people, in my opinion, just don’t understand that the flag is way bigger than right now. What it stands for hasn’t changed. What it means hasn’t changed. We’ve changed. We’ve cycled around with different things that are good and bad.”

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Taylor, who told Us he is “pretty conservative,” also noted that an appropriate response varies depending on the situation. “There is some bad stuff in this world but I think there’s a time and place to protest that,” he said. “A lot of it is really bad and not cool and makes me sad, but I think the last time to do it is when we’re supposed to be honoring the one thing that is unifying us.”

There is another element that can bring the nation together. “Love is the most important thing here,” he told Us. “Love and unity. What’s changed since [Colin] Kapernick took a knee a year ago? In my opinion, nothing. So now you’re losing unity for change. You don’t really have a clear plan to make.”

In the end, he just wants football to be, well, football. “Sundays have always been the most segregated day in America,” Taylor added. “White churches and black churches, that’s already so sad as a Christian, if you think about it. At least after church there was always football to unify us as a people and a nation. Black, white, doesn’t matte. It’s football! And as if there hasn’t been enough negativity since Trump’s election. Now we have to bring it into football. I just wish we could focus on the positive change we’ve made in this country for once. Thank God, that we, on our own, went from slavery to electing a black man into our highest office. I think there’s a lot to be proud of and a lot to stand for here.”

As previously reported, several NFL team members kneeled on the field on Sunday in response to President Donald Trump’s statement during an Alabama rally on Friday that those who refused to stand for the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” should be fired. Tom Brady, who previously described Trump as a “friend,” linked arms with his Patriots teammates and later posted a photo of himself with running back James White to express his solidarity.

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