Nov. 16 (UPI) -- NFL Hall of Famer Alan Page might be the most unexpected recipient yet of a Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump.
Trump honored seven Americans with the honor at a White House ceremony Friday -- including Page, philanthropist Miriam Adelson, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach. He also presented the award posthumously to former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, baseball legend Babe Ruth, and rock and roll icon Elvis Presley.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom, along with the Congressional Gold Medal, is the top civilian award in the United States.
It wouldn't be Page's credentials that made his selection different, but his stance on one of the president's controversial opposition to NFL players kneeling in protest during the National Anthem.
Page, who left football to become an attorney and a long-serving member of the Minnesota Supreme Court, publicly defended the players' right to protest and speak out. He also has been critical of the Trump administration.
"Given the license, the current administration has given to people to feel comfortable in their bigotry, it seems to me on some level we are moving backward," Page told Minneapolis' WCCO-TV in January.
He called the protests against police brutality, started by Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 NFL season, "an acknowledgment that there is a problem, and a reminder for those who either don't know, have never known or don't want to know that these issues exist."
Trump has railed against the protests, arguing at times NFL owners should fire players who take a knee, saying disrespects the U.S. military and law enforcement.
Page told the Pioneer Press Tuesday, however, that he's happy to put politics aside Friday for the honor.
"My vision of the world is the same today as it was a year ago, and the year before that," Page said. "But this medal, this honor is far more important than my personal beliefs, my personal likes and dislikes. The politics of it, that's something that at this point is not important to me. What's important is trying to make this world a better place and literally that is my focus."