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Kim Pegula explains why she stands for anthem but supports those who kneel

Kim Pegula explains why she stands for anthem but supports those who kneel

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Kim Pegula at the ADPRO Sports Training Center in Orchard Park in 2019. (James P. McCoy/News file photo)

Kim Pegula has her reasons for standing for the national anthem.

Born in South Korea, Pegula was abandoned on a street corner in Seoul. She came to the United States at the age of 5 and was adopted by a family in Fairport. A few years later, she became a naturalized citizen.

Today, the co-owner of the Buffalo Bills reflects on those most humble of beginnings when she hears the national anthem being played.

"So the flag for me is very profound," Pegula said Friday during an appearance on the team-produced "One Bills Live." "For me to stand for the flag and for the anthem, for me personally, that is a right that I now so much appreciate."

That's why, Pegula said, she will not kneel for the national anthem. However, she said she will support the rights of the players on her team if they choose to kneel as a form of peaceful protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

"Personally, I'm not going to kneel," Pegula said. "But we've been listening. We've been learning to love other people and understand experiences and what they have gone through, what they've experienced, and what maybe the anthem or the flag means to them, it's truly different than what I went through.

"Honestly, that's how I feel. I will be standing, but that's my choice. That's my right. I would hope that the players as well respect that, just like I'm going to respect them for what they want to do if they so choose to."

Pegula has addressed this topic before. Three years ago following inflammatory comments from President Trump about former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others who took a knee during the national anthem as a peaceful way of protesting, the Bills held a team meeting the night before a game against the Denver Broncos. The message then was the same as it is today, Pegula said.

About a dozen players kneeled before the game against the Broncos and Bills' players and coaches interlocked arms for the anthem.

"Obviously, this was a tough topic three years ago, still, and we haven't really moved beyond the space," she said. "I think last time, last time three years ago, we said, we do. We support our players. We support their right for them to peacefully protest. Now it's come upon us again."

Pegula said she does not want her personal decision to stand to be misconstrued.

"I think and I would hope that our players or anybody would understand that if I'm standing, that does not mean I am ... for racism," she said. "Certainly, it's not. And the same goes for our players. If they choose to kneel, or whoever wants to protest, I don't think it's because they don't love the country or they don't respect our military or any of that.

"In some ways we've come a long ways, in other ways it's been very slow. I think if you talk to the black community, they would say, 'Listen, it's been hundreds of years and we're still in this place.' This time around, people are listening more. Whether it's deliberate or whether it's just a part of where we are in our world, we're listening more and our hearts and our ears are a little bit more open than maybe they were three years ago."

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