September 07. 2018 4:12PM

Kicked Off: Another season in the culture war

The New England Patriots kick off their quest for a sixth Super Bowl championship Sunday afternoon in Foxborough against the Houston Texans.

This also means we're entering the third season of people talking past each other over protests and the national anthem.

Nike fired another shot in the culture wars by featuring former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the face of its "Just Do It" campaign. Kaepernick has been out of the NFL for two years. His play fell off significantly since leading the Niners to the Super Bowl six years ago.

But Kaepernick thinks he's a martyr, banned from the league for his political activism. He started protesting during the national anthem of preseason games in 2016. Since, he's given confused and conflicting justifications for his protests, at times citing police brutality against African-Americans and sometimes launching into broader criticisms of the United States.

President Donald Trump is among many Americans who see protests during the national anthem as disrespectful to the American flag, and to the veterans who fought and died for our freedom.

We trust that the vast majority of those protesting during the anthem do not intend to disrespect American servicemen and women. They are trying to highlight the problems of race relations in America.

But protesting during the anthem is inherently disrespectful, no matter the intent. It uses a moment of national unity to push a political agenda. Kneeling protestors should not be surprised when others take their gesture as an insult.

At the same time, patriotic football fans should take a deep breath before getting angry. Some anthem protestors are trying to divide us. Most don't realize the message their protest is sending.

We need not agree with how or when some players express their views to enjoy watching them play.

Go Pats!