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No Punishment For Worcester Football Player After National Anthem Protest

WORCESTER (CBS) - A Doherty Memorial High School football player who knelt during the National Anthem before Friday's game against Leominster has not, and will not, be disciplined.

The silent protest was in support of a "dialogue on race and equality," according to the school, similar to the demonstrations in the NFL this past weekend.

Superintendent Maureen Binienda spoke with the player, Michael Oppong, his mother and the coach Monday morning.

"The coach had asked him at the game 'Why did you do that?' The young man stated that he was going down to tie his shoe. So then, during the weekend, the young man decided he wanted to call the coach and tell him the truth. So he called the coach and said, 'I wasn't really going down to tie my shoe, I was doing it as a protest,'" Binienda told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

"So they had a couple of conversations during the weekend and the coach said, 'Be prepared on Monday. You might have to miss one game.'"

Oppong says he's proud of the decision he made to kneel during the National Anthem.

"I'm not a hero I'm just trying to help justice be served," Oppong said.

No action was taken, but Michael tweeted about the incident and it's since generated a lot of buzz from across the country.

"My coach called me to tell me I would be suspended for a game and coach told me to tweet that," Oppong told WBZ-TV.

"If a coach or team decides they all want to stand for the National Anthem we would like that.  But, if anyone chooses not to, then that's their Constitutional right and we cannot discipline by law," Binienda said.

"I wasn't trying to oppose 9/11. I happen to respect the veterans and those who lost their lives on 9/11," Oppong said.

His classmates and teammates stand behind him.

"I don't understand where all the hate is coming from he's exercising his Constitutional rights," classmate Jacob Robertson said.

The teams says they do have a plan for the National Anthem for this Friday's game. Michael says he does plan to kneel again and hopes his teammates will join him.

Oppong thanks his teammates and now even his coach for their support. "I appreciate my teammates a lot for their support. They helped me get through this," Oppong said.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Lana Jones reports

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