Baseball Hall of Famer Tony La Russa termed the national-anthem protests of Colin Kaepernick as "disrespectful" and said he doubts the NFL quarterback's sincerity, according to Sports Illustrated Now.
Kaepernick, employed by the San Francisco 49ers, has been taking a knee during the anthem as a protest to bring attention to racial injustice.
La Russa, currently a high-ranking executive with the Arizona Diamondbacks, isn't buying Kaepernick's actions.
"I was there in the Bay Area when he first was a star, a real star. I never once saw him do anything but promote himself," La Russa said. "And all of a sudden now he's a second-stringer and he's got this mission ... and I just don't trust his sincerity.
"And even if he was sincere, there's ways to express your belief in some of the issues that face blacks around this country without disrespecting the country you live in or the flag that it represents."
La Russa won two World Series titles as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals and one as manager of the Oakland Athletics. He said he "absolutely would not allow" a player on his squad to disrespect the national anthem.
"I would tell (them to) sit inside the clubhouse," La Russa said. "You're not going to be out there representing our team and our organization by disrespecting the flag. No, sir, I would not allow it. ...
"If you want to make your statement, you make it in the clubhouse, but not out there. You're not going to show it that way publicly and disrespectfully."
"When he says it's a white, like elitist, kind of sport, I mean how much wronger can he be? We have tried so hard, the MLB, to expand the black athletes' opportunity," La Russa told ESPN. "We want the black athletes to pick not basketball or football, but want them to play baseball; they should play baseball. And we're working to make that happen in the inner cities. We have a lot of Latin players. We have players from the Pacific Rim."
Demographics support Jones' points. According to USA, there were only 69 black players on the Opening Day rosters of the 30 teams.