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San Francisco 49ers second-year running backs coach Bobby Turner has no idea what the 2018 NFL season will bring.

But the East Chicago native knows one thing for sure on game day: He's standing for the national anthem — home, away, exhibition, regular season and playoffs.

"I'm a professional. That's the way I've felt my whole adult life," Turner said of his personal beliefs. "I feel a certain way, so I just go do it.

"We haven't had any meetings or discussions yet with the Niners, but I stay out of the players' stuff and do my own thing."

President Donald Trump has blasted players who kneel in protest, saying they should be fired by their teams.

Several NFL players have used the platform of the national anthem to stage social justice protests centered around racial inequality and police brutality.

By now the world probably knows Trump un-invited the Super Bowl champion Eagles to the White House on Tuesday, though there were no anthem protests by the Eagles last season.

ESPN had reported "most — if not all" of the black players planned not to attend the White House ceremony.

A decision from NFL owners requiring players to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner" if they are on the field when the anthem is played has triggered intense reaction from supporters and opponents.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the change was approved unanimously at the league's spring meetings in Atlanta. However, the NFL Players Association has already taken issue with the policy, which was reached without the union present.

San Francisco owner Jed York abstained from voting on the policy, which also gives players the option to stay in the locker room. York said he wanted to discuss the issue more with his team and focus on the progress, not the protest.

"It's just a personal deal with me," said Turner, who is black and has also coached at Denver, Washington and Atlanta. "When I come out (on the field), I show respect. That's just the way I am. If we have a policy where we can stand or kneel, I'm standing.

"That's what I'm doing. I control what I can control."

York said that his team will not sell concessions during the national anthem.

“I don’t think we should profit during the national anthem," York was quoted as saying in a story on ESPN.com. "If we’re going to ask people to be respectful, I think that's something we should do to be successful."

For the one-millionth time, this is not about football or the anthem.

This is about freedom.

For the players, it’s about the freedom to protest social injustice or whatever else they choose.

For the president, it's about honoring the American flag and what it stands for — liberty.

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky said he believes his team will stand during the anthem and not remain in the locker room.

Last October at Lucas Oil Stadium, vice president Mike Pence and his wife walked out of the Colts-49ers game after the anthem because there were 49er players kneeling.

Pence later tweeted that the players were disrespecting the flag, the national anthem and U.S. soldiers.

Carolina defensive tackle and E.C. Central grad Kawann Short said his Panthers have not yet addressed the anthem issue.

"So I have no take on it. I don't even think about it," said Short, who is black.

He added: "I stand for my own reasons and they're personal. You do what you need to do and keep helping this team win and that's my focus.

"Besides, it's a little early, if anything. The (anthem) rule just came out."

It's a highly divisive issue that may never go away.

There's been a ripple effect at the prep level as well.

Several years ago, Kankakee Valley boys basketball coach Jack Gabor came under fire from the school board when he had his players stay in the locker room during the anthem.

He wanted them to focus on the game and their assignments, and not get caught up in emotions.

Gabor almost lost his job because of it.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

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