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Ron Rivera on Colin Kaepernick protest: 'That's what this country is based on, is freedom'

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera watches the action in the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015. (Mike McCarn)

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera didn't slam San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick for sitting during the national anthem as a way to show his displeasure with racial oppression in the country.

He didn't say he was offended by Kaepernick not standing for the anthem prior to Friday's preseason game against Green Bay.

But Rivera could understand why some would be offended.

"It depends on your outlook, on the way you look at things," Rivera said on Monday said. "Again, that's a personal thing. We all have to make our own decisions and decide where they are. You guys know exactly where I stand."

READ MORE: Kaepernick will sit through anthem until there's change


Rivera has a different perspective than most on Kaepernick's decision not to stand during the anthem until he sees changes in the way the country treats minorities.

Rivera grew up on military bases around the world. His father, Eugenio, spent 32 years in the U.S. Army. His mother's family also has deep roots in the military.

Rivera and his wife, Stephanie, are volunteers with the USO of North and South Carolina. The 2015 NFL Coach of the Year often calls on military veterans to speak to his team as inspiration.

"The National Anthem is a very personal thing for me, obviously for specific reasons because of my father's and my mother's family and their service to the country," Rivera said. "And that's why I stand.

"It is something that has to be personal for each person. That's what this country is based on, is freedom. ... You have the right to do what you want to do because that's what those men and women fought for, sacrificed for, and we should all be grateful for that."

Carolina safety Kurt Coleman summed up best what several teammates echoed, that Kaepernick is "entitled to his opinion."

"That's what America is about, to stand for what they believe in," he said. "If that's what he wants to do, that's what he wants to do.

"It's a peaceful protest, and that's how I see it."

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