ATLANTA - The debate over protests during the National Anthem at football games has entered the race for Georgia's next Lieutenant Governor.
State Senator David Shafer, R -Duluth, and his campaign announced they plan to run a series of digital ads ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl urging people to stand for the Star Spangled Banner.
"The NFL should respect our nation's veterans," a preview ad reads.
The controversy began after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest police brutality in the United States.
"I believe America is the greatest country on the face of the Earth and that every American should stand when the flag is saluted," said Shafer.
Shafer said he understands that the First Amendment protects the players' right to protest, but he takes issue with the NFL's decision to bar the organization American Veterans, known as AMVETS, from running an advertisement in the Super Bowl program encouraging people to stand for the flag.
"The NFL told them to sit down and shut up and I think that's hypocritical and it's wrong," said Shafer.
Gerald Griggs with the Georgia NAACP has publicly applauded Kaepernick, leading rallies and an NFL boycott in support of the former NFL player. Griggs said Shafer should focus on Georgia issues if he wants to serve as the state's Lt. Governor.
"The First Amendment is quite clear. If the players feel the need to take a knee, they should take a knee. That's their Constitutional right," said Griggs. "A politician should not be using this to try to elevate his political career."
Sen. Shafer filed Senate Resolution 673 condemning the NFL's action on the AMVETS ad. Senators unanimously approved it, but leaders in the Democratic party said the vote was not done properly and they would not have cast "yes" votes if they had known the content of the resolution.