Hockey commentator Don Cherry says media coverage of athletes kneeling during the playing of national anthems has been hypocritical.
The "Hockey Night in Canada" personality posted a statement to his verified Twitter account Wednesday night, taking aim at "left wing media" and its coverage of National Football League players taking a knee during the American anthem to protest the racist treatment of African Americans.
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Cherry pointed that former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, a devout Christian, was mocked by the media for taking a knee to pray after scoring a touchdown in his breakout rookie season in 2010.
"The late night leftie talk shows made fun of Tim, to the cartoonists in the paper he was a joke and they made fun of him. It was brutal," Cherry said in the 131-word statement. "Yet the NFL players go on their knees to make a point and they are heroes."
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the kneeling phenomenon in 2016, refusing to stand during the anthem in the NFL's pre-season. It has since become common across the NFL, and support has come from other major leagues.
At least one Major League Baseball has knelt during the U.S. anthem, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders linked arms during "O Canada" before a CFL game last week as a show of unity. National Hockey League players Wayne Simmonds and Joel Ward have both entertained the idea of kneeling during the anthems during that sport's pre-season.
The protests have drawn the ire of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticized NFLers for the practice in interviews and on Twitter. In response to Trump's demands to stop the kneeling, more athletes have begun to protest.
On Sunday, all but one of the Pittsburgh Steelers refused to take the field during the national anthem, while other teams linked arms or groups of players sat or took a knee. In response to Trump's tweets, the National Basketball Association's Golden State Warriors refused to visit the White House, a tradition among reigning championship teams.
Cherry says that Tebow was mocked while Kaepernick and others have been praised because of religious persecution.
"The reason they can make fun and ridicule Tim getting on his knees and thanking the Lord is because he is a Christian," said Cherry. "No other religion you can make fun of and ridicule only Christianity. If you are Christian you are open season."
Kaepernick is also open about his Christian beliefs, with Biblical tattoos covering his torso and his own touchdown celebrations "thanking Him."