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Atlanta — The debate over whether the NFL should let players kneel during the national anthem flared up in state government this week as some legislators and a governor disparaged the league.

Georgia senators unanimously passed a resolution Thursday denouncing the NFL for allowing players to kneel but not letting a veterans group advertise in the printed game program for the Super Bowl.

South Carolina Republican Gov. Henry McMaster issued a proclamation designating the day of the big game as “Stand for the Flag Super Bowl Sunday.”

In Tennessee, a Republican legislator running for governor said she would run an ad during the pregame show saying: “It’s too bad that the league doesn’t respect the patriotism of our national anthem.”

The on-the-field protests started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick have waned this season but the controversy hasn’t. President Donald Trump alluded to his public spat with the NFL in his State of the Union speech Tuesday, saying that paying tribute to the flag is a “civic duty.”

Union exec takes hard line

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, said “no” Thursday when asked about the 10-year collective bargaining agreement being extended beyond the 2020 season.

Then Smith went on the offensive about the next CBA. “We prepare for war,” he said.

NFLPA President Eric Winston said portions of the contract they believe need changing range from health care issues to the union’s role in overall league decisions to revenue splits.

Extra points

Injured Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier was released from the hospital on Thursday, nearly two months after suffering a spinal injury in a victory over Cincinnati.

... Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been cleared from the concussion protocol and will play in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

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