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NFL protests are protected speech but 'misguided': U.S. House speaker

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks during a press briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday said National Football League players’ protests were constitutionally protected free speech, but their decision to kneel while the national anthem played at games was “misguided.”

“Clearly people have a right to express themselves,” Ryan told reporters at a news conference. But doing so in front of the U.S. flag, “it looks like you’re protesting against the ideals of America... I think it’s misguided,” he added.

Reporting by Amanda Becker and Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernadette Baum