Joe Buck will not use his first NFL broadcast as host of “NFL Live” to apologize for criticizing the NFL players whose actions during the national anthem have drawn national attention and renewed the debate over whether the anthem should be played during games.
In an interview on ESPN’s “First Take” on Tuesday, Buck said he will no longer use the platform to condemn the players’ actions and will instead focus on issues facing Americans.
“I think it’s important that we focus on the issues that we’re dealing with, because that’s the only thing that matters,” Buck said.
“And I’m not going to use this platform to criticize or denigrate the players or the national team.
That’s not the role of my job.
I’m just going to focus on what’s going on right now.”
Buck said he has already apologized for calling the players who knelt during the anthem “f—ings pigs” and “disrespectful to the flag.”
“It was just something that I was thinking about.
I was just thinking about what the president was saying about the protests,” he said.
Buck did not elaborate on why he thinks the players are disrespecting the flag.
He also said that if he were a player in the NFL, he would not be participating in the anthem.
“We are all human beings,” he added.
“If you are a member of the United States of America, you are an American, and that means you are worthy of the rights of the American flag and that’s what we stand for.”
Bubba Watson and Antonio Brown also took issue with Buck’s statement that he would no longer call the players “f***ing pigs.”
In the first episode of “First Takes” in January, Buck called out the NFL’s decision to suspend Watson, the former Pittsburgh Steelers star, and Brown, the San Francisco 49ers star, for their actions during protests during the playing of the national song in 2017.
“It’s a disgusting thing, and you know, it’s really hard to watch,” Buck told Watson, who was suspended for his role in the protests.
“It’s like, man, we’ve been through it.
We’ve been to hell.
We’re going to take it, and we’re going, and then we’re gonna go.”
Bucking also took aim at the NFL for being too lenient on players, saying they were “taking advantage of” their suspensions.
“If you want to play, go out and play.
And if you don’t want to go out, then don’t come back.
Thats how it’s been done for years,” Buck responded.
Bucs owners, however, said the team will not be punishing Watson or Brown for their acts of civil disobedience.
“There will be no punishment for the actions of the players,” said Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.
“The Ravens, we have not made any decisions to punish the players.
We do not want to do so.”
Bucson, meanwhile, told reporters that the NFL and players will continue to play “for as long as they want to.”
“I’m going to continue to stand by them and support them as long they want us to,” he told reporters.
“We’re not going anywhere.
We’ll have some issues.
Brock Osweiler is expected to be suspended from the Browns’ opener for his actions on the field.
Bucking said he is also not backing down from his call for an end to the protests, but he also said he does not want the issue to be a distraction from his job as host.
“You don’t say, ‘I’m gonna be on ESPN.
I want to make a point of not making a point, but I’m going be on ‘First Takes,'” Buck said on ESPN, adding that the protests have already had a positive impact on society.”
And we’re not just gonna sit here and do nothing about it,” he continued.
“There are people that are trying to change the country.
You have to stand up for what you believe in.
And there are people who are trying, and I’m one of those people.”
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum