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Has message of NFL protests become ‘muddled’?

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SEATTLE — The 12 flag was raised by the oldest living military nurse in the country, 95-year-old Barbara Nichols, who served as an Army nurse in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.

All the Seahawks players stood during the anthem Monday night.

“Things like that are good to see. I don’t think they should be conflicted or mixed in with something completely different, with racial injustice or injustice within the NFL itself,” said Jay Sierra.

A Seahawks fan, Sierra said that the military aspect and debate over standing or kneeling during the anthem over the past few months are completely separate from the racial injustice the protests were originally about. Sierra said they shouldn’t be mixed together.

“I think the message has been muddled, definitely,” said Sierra.

Fellow fan Amanda Burris, who comes from a military family,  added, “All my grandparents are military and my stepsister was a Marine,” said Burris, who agrees that months of protests by NFL players have morphed the message.

“I do understand that side of it, but I wish it wasn’t a part of the conversation. It’s separate -- 100% separate,” said Burris.

Eric Purkey, who watched the game with Burris, said the original message about equal rights has been lost.

“To me, the people have taken the conversation that was about equal rights and mistreatment of minorities in this country and said it’s about disrespecting the flag and not respecting the military, but that’s absolutely not what it’s about,” said Purkey.

The protests have brought forward heated topics over the past few months. Sierra says it may have a lasting effect.

“How this is influencing kids, how it’s affecting how the game is viewed? It’s having a negative effect on the game, and as a lifelong football fan, I don’t like seeing it,” said Sierra.

But for Burris and Purkey, they say whatever the effect, the original message is still relevant.

“Ideally, it would go back to what the original message was and what (former QB Colin) Kaepernick meant, that it was about equal rights,” said Purkey.

“I hope the right for equality stands out, and continue to make a stand and bring it up and the different classifications that society has set that shouldn’t be there,” said Burris.

Throughout the month of November, 10 percent of Salute to Service merchandise from Seattle area pro shops will go to Merging Vets and Players (MVP).

MVP gives a physical space for combat veterans and former NFL players to work out and train side by side, helping each other transition from soldier and player to citizen.