‘We must find solutions that unite’: Tom Benson responds to national anthem controversy

New Orleans Saints OTA

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS — Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson has weighed in on the Saints’ decision to kneel and then stand for the national anthem when they play the Miami Dolphins in London Sunday.

Drew Brees announced on Twitter this morning that like the Dallas Cowboys did Monday night, the team will kneel together before the national anthem, then stand at attention while the song plays.

Benson released a statement this afternoon in response to the Saints’ plans.

“One of the things I am most proud of is my military service. And there are few things that are more important to me than the honor that I feel we must bestow upon our military men and women – the honor we must show our flag – and standing at attention for our flag and our national anthem is a powerful symbol we must respect,” he said.

He said as an NFL and NBA team owner, he’s met coaches, players and others from “seemingly every background possible.”

“But as this week has demonstrated, there are very sensitive, difficult and emotional matters affecting this country. Now more than ever we must find solutions that unite and don’t divide us,” he said. “I stand ready to offer our organizations, our players, and our community meaningful support and resources to move from protest to solution.”

Benson said he has spoken with Gov. John Bel Edwards about the issue. Edwards said he’s on board to help the team “affect positive change.”

“With my heart, I respect everyone’s very honest and sincere opinions that I have heard personally on this subject all week,” Benson said. “We are committed to work with our players and our community to be unified to create positive change for all citizens.

“Along the way, when presented the opportunity – I offer that we all thank a military man or woman and honor our flag and anthem – it is that freedom that is allowing us this discussion today. We should and must use this most powerful of platforms to help heal,” Benson continued.