Hockey commentator Don Cherry believes media coverage of athletes kneeling during the playing of national anthems has been hypocritical.
The popular TV personality best known for his Coach's Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada posted a statement to his verified Twitter account on Wednesday night taking aim at "left wing media" and its coverage of National Football League players taking a knee during the American national anthem to protest the racist treatment of African Americans.
Cherry pointed out in his statement 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," said Cherry in the 131-word document. "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 league and has spread to Major League Baseball and the Canadian Football League. 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.
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The protests have drawn the ire of U.S. President Donald Trump, who had 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 believes 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 Christianity, with Biblical tattoos covering his torso and his own touchdown celebrations "thanking Him."