Supermodel Kate Upton wasn’t happy with the four Miami Dolphins who knelt during the national anthem Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Her blistering smack down on Instagram and tweets inspired comments on both sides of the controversy involving athletes engaging in silent protests to call attention to what they deem the oppression of blacks and other minorities.
The protests were inspired recently by San Francisco backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the first NFL player who sat and knelt on one knee during preseason game anthems.
Upton, engaged to Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, called the moves unpatriotic and said the “Star Spangled Banner” was symbolic for the country.
“It represents honoring the many brave men and women who sacrifice and have sacrificed their lives each and every single day to protect our freedom,” she wrote Sunday on Instagram. “Sitting or kneeling down during the national anthem is a disgrace to those people who have served and currently serve our country. Sitting down during the national anthem on September 11th is even more horrific.
“Protest all you want and use social media all you want. However, during the nearly two minutes when that song is playing, I believe everyone should put their hands on their heart and be proud of our country for we are all truly blessed.
“Recent history has shown that it is a place where anyone no matter what race or gender has the potential to become President of the United States. We live in the most special place in the world and should be thankful. After the song is over, I would encourage everyone to please use the podium they have, stand up for their beliefs, and make America a better place.”
She received some push back. “So in your world, the protests should take place on 9.10 or 9.12, just not 9.11? said rolandsmartin on Twitter.
Upton responded: “Sorry I wasn’t clear. Never during our national anthem. Especially on 9/11 #NeverForget.”
“This is unacceptable,” she wrote in an earlier post on Twitter. “You should be proud to be an American. Especially on 9/11 when we should support each other.”
Soledad O’Brien, a television anchor and correspondent, weighed in then on social media: “Maybe you can be proud to be an American and also protest those things that you think aren't so great about America.”
Upton responded: “Read my Instagram post. They have every right and SHOULD protest just not during those 2 minutes on 9/11.”
O’Brien, adding she was a Kate Upton fan, said in a different post: “I love America and I am @KateUpton fan. Just suggesting a different way to look at protest.”
Miami’s Jelani Jenkins explained why he knelt. “I chose to get involved to see if I could create change, raise awareness. And I want to make it clear that there is no disrespect to the military or to police officers — I’m not about that. I love everyone,” said Jenkins. “I would like to keep moving forward in the right direction with everybody: equal rights, equal opportunity. From my position, it doesn’t seem that it’s happening. That’s why I took a stand.”
The four Miami players — Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, Jenkins and Kenny Stills — registered their protest shortly before kickoff. The four players stood while President Barack Obama’s message played regarding the 15th anniversary of 9/11 before taking a knee. All four stood at the conclusion of the anthem.
“If it’s about the knee that people are upset about, every Sunday people of faith take a knee to give thanks to their lord and savior, whatever faith or religion that they are,” Foster said. “It’s not about a knee, it’s not about the (symbolism), it’s about the message. They say it’s not the time to do this, but when is the time?”
Opening day in the NFL saw Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters raise a black-gloved fist during the national anthem.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.