By Alex Del Barrio

HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – In the midst of the national anthem protests throughout the NFL the Houston Texans elected to unify as a team and lock arms during the anthem before their 27-23 loss to the New England Patriots last Sunday in Foxboro.

Several players throughout the league elected to kneel or sit during the performance of the anthem and a few teams including the Steelers, Seahawks, and Titans elected to remain in the locker room during the performance.

“I think it’s everybody’s right to have whatever opinion and feeling that they’d like to have. That’s each individual’s right. That’s what’s great about this country, is that everybody has the freedom of speech,” Texans defensive end JJ Watt said on Wednesday.

On Monday the Dallas Cowboys elected to take a knee before the playing of the anthem and then stand when the anthem was being performed.

Watt acknowledged that we are living in a very polarizing landscape in the country and that he has been encouraged by the love for humanity based on personal interactions in the aftermath of the natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.

“Obviously it is a very difficult time in our country, there’s division. I can only speak to what I’ve personally seen the last month and that’s people of all races, of all ethnicities, of all backgrounds, of all financial situations, coming together to help each other out and I think that’s been an incredible thing for me to witness and it also gives a great amount of hope.”

The Texans return home to NRG Stadium on Sunday to host the division rival Tennessee Titans and although they have not discussed whether they plan on locking arms again, Watt expects them to.

“I would imagine so,” Watt said.

Watt didn’t offer much in terms of personal feelings about those who decided to take a knee but mentioned that there were many discussions and conversations about the issues in the safe space of the NFL locker room.”

“I think that the one thing that I know is that we all care about each other and we all care about the issues and the values that each person deals with and each person holds near and dear to them,” Watt said. “I think it sparked some great conversations. I think that it’s opened people’s eyes. And I think that, the one thing I know is that I love every guy in that locker room and when we stand up and we lock arms together, it’s because we truly care about each other and we truly feel that bond with each other.”

Watt is hopeful the discussions that took place in the locker room with his teammates is something that can be beneficial to everyone.”

“Conversations  have been started and it’s great and I think that the more that we can come together and the more that we can be unified, the better off we’re going to be as a country.

Alex Del Barrio covers the Houston Texans for and is the color commentator for the Houston Dynamo. He also hosts “ADB and Murph” with Matt Murphy which can be heard on Saturday afternoons 4-7 pm  Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio


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