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"The Divided States of America?"

A newly released survey shows Americans are sharply divided about the NFL National Anthem controversy, and it may not break down like most folks in Mississippi think.

A majority of Americans -- 61 percent -- say NFL players should not be fired for kneeling during the National Anthem, even though President Donald Trump last weekend said such players were "SOBs" who should be fired.

Today Trump tweeted, "The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations. The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can't kneel during our National Anthem!"

But it seems a majority of Americans show at least some sympathy for the players' actions, if the data in the three graphics below are accurate. Indeed, the new data seems to validate what the "The Wall Street Journal" stated recently - that we are now "The Divided States of America."

Amid anger and division, people of goodwill scramble to piece together "reasonable" responses to the hot-button issue. Also, people with big money at stake are looking for a middle road of action to save their big investments in NFL teams.

Last night, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones knelt locked arm in arm with all of his players in a moment of prayer or silence, then he had his whole team stand for the National Anthem. He and star players pointed the finger at Trump's comments for their unified display, which drew boos from the fans at the game.

CNN reported the following:

"Cowboys star wide receiver Dez Bryant and running back Ezekiel Elliott said the team was sending a message to President Donald Trump, who in recent days has issued caustic criticism of the anthem protests. ....

" 'That was a clear shot at Trump,' Bryant said of his team's display. 'We showed great unity tonight, and that's what that was for. I feel like that was needed.'

"Added Elliott, 'We don't agree at all with what the President said, and we just wanted to show that we weren't going to be divided by that.'

"Jones, who in the past has criticized such conduct, said he was proud of his team for showing respect for the American flag, while also showing unity.

" 'We want to stand and respect the flag,' he said. 'Nothing we did tonight says anything other than that, but we also, as a complete team ... want to be able to, when we can, demonstrate that unity is important and equality is important. So, the thing that I'm so proud of these guys for, they did both.' "

The new survey data was published in and is part of the The Cato Institute 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey.

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