On Sept. 26, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona defended NFL players who choose to kneel during the national anthem.
His comments came the day after the Dallas Cowboys and team owner Jerry Jones knelt before the anthem ahead of a Sept. 25 game against the Arizona Cardinals, The Hill reported.
The Cowboys players stood during the anthem.
McCain was asked by TMZ what he thought of the action.
"That's their right to do what they want to do as citizens," the senator said.
The latest controversy surrounding the anthem protests developed after President Donald Trump called on team owners to fire players kneeling during "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Trump returned to the issue Sept. 26, proposing the league institute a regulation prohibiting the protest.
"The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations," Trump wrote.
The president described those involved in the kneeling protest as "disgraceful."
"It's called respect for our country," he said, reports the BBC.
Trump alleged that players who failed to stand during the anthem are disrespecting military personnel who have fought and died for the country.
The protest first took place in the 2016 pre-season, when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down during the national anthem to protest police violence.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of [color]," Kaepernick stated.
According to the BBC, some commentators suggest Kaepernick has been shunned by the league. He is a free agent this season, but no team signed him.
The protest has already spread beyond the NFL. Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas knelt on the House floor on Sept. 25 to show her solidarity with the NFL players.
"There is no basis in the First Amendment that says that you cannot kneel on the national anthem or in front of the flag," Lee said, according to CNN.
Lee also took up Trump's comment on the issue he made Sept. 22 at a rally in Alabama, in which he said that in response to anthem protests NFL owners should say, "Get that son of a b***h off the field right now, he's fired."
"There is no regulation that says that these young men cannot stand against the dishonoring of their mothers by you calling them to fire the son of a B," Lee added. "You tell me which of those children's mothers are a son of a B. That is racism."
Lee also said Trump has no right to get involved with the players' right to freedom of speech.