Christian NFL star Benjamin Watson opened up about the pain he felt after President Donald Trump's controversial comments about players who protested racial injustice in the U.S. by taking a knee and said he's comforted by the fact that "God is still on the throne" amid division.
Hundreds of NFL players across the country demonstrated during the National Anthem on Sunday in the form of kneeling, linking arms and holding fists in the air after President Trump told a rally in Alabama, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: 'Get that son of a b- off the field right now, out. He's fired. He's fired!'"
Watson, however, stood arm-in-arm with some of his teammates during the playing of the anthem before the Ravens game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London's Wembley Stadium.
The Baltimore Ravens tight end recently appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America," where he discussed the events of last weekend.
"I will take you back to Friday. [Me and my teammates] were in London and we didn't really know about the president's comments and once that kind of filtered out and guys saw it on social media, there was a tremendous amount of emotion and there was a tremendous amount of hurt," the 36-year-old speaker and author said. "We felt, as many others did, that this was a direct attack on our brotherhood."
Name calling, Watson said, "is something that we don't stand for."
"Even to imply that we don't have a right to express ourselves in any way, whether you agree or not, is something that we really took to heart," Watson added.
After learning of Trump's comments, Watson said he and other Ravens discussed how to react.
"Chapel that morning was emotional as guys talked about what they wanted to do," he said. "Wanting to respect our country and show their love for their country but also wanting to respond in solidarity. It kind of was organic. We got on the field and some guys had decided to kneel that didn't before. Other guys locked arms. I locked arms and I also pointed to the skies because I really believe that the Lord will have to have His hand on us when it comes to reconciling our differences."
Watson, who frequently addresses hot-button issues on his social media pages, also weighed in on the controversy on Facebook, where he urged peaceful dialogue and answered questions from fans regarding the issue.
"I wanted to applaud you for not kneeling today. You are one of the most productive and amazing players in the NFL and people. You are such a Godly example to so many ! I wanted to know what the vibe with ravens was actually today ? I'm very disappointed in them," wrote one commenter.
"This was a hard couple days," Watson said in response. "The words of the president felt like an attack on all of us. It opened the door for a few great conversations though between a few white players and black players. If anything our hope is to learn from each other and empathize."
Another commenter asked, "Why can't we be the peacemakers?" and said they are "extremely sickened by the support of righteous anger for a flag and blatant disregard for human hearts."
Watson responded: "Many in the church have erroneously equated america with Christianity as if the two were synonymous. They have failed to live the gospel and created a form of patriotism gospel. This is not all the church by any means but there has been enough that many have been hurt and felt abandoned by the church. This should not be. We must realize that we in the church are not perfect and are influenced by our own desires and pride. The good news is that the Holy Spirit can open our eyes. This is why we need each other to encourage and sometimes correct each other."
Later, he added, "Thank you for the comments and questions. Dialogue can be constructive when entered with humility and respect. In the best and worst of times He is still on the throne!"