By Andrea Flores

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4)– Denver Broncos President of Football Operations and General Manager John Elway is speaking out on player protests during the National Anthem.

“Everybody has their right to do what they wish to do, and their beliefs are their beliefs, that’s why we live in this country,” Elway said. “We’ll respect that and whatever you want to do is alright with us, but the bottom line is that it can’t get in the way of our main goal, and that is to compete for world championships.”

Denver Broncos GM John Elway (credit: CBS)

He commented on the controversial issue during a joint practice with the San Francisco 49ers ahead of Saturday’s preseason game.

Former 49er Colin Kaepernick was the first player to take a stand against racial injustice by kneeling during a preseason game last year.

Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Since then, other players have followed suit, including Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.

Elway says he’s proud of how Marshall handled his demonstration on, and off, the field.

Brandon Marshall takes a knee during the National Anthem before the Broncos home game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 18, 2016. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

“Brandon made a point last year, but he carried it forward,” Elway said. “He didn’t make a stand on the field before the games, he actually went out in the community and did something, and talked to law enforcement, and has gotten involved in the community.”

With three preseason games and 16 regular season games still on the schedule, Elway has a reminder for his team.

Denver Broncos GM John Elway (credit: CBS)

“Make sure it’s not hurting your teammate,” Elway said. “We’re football first and we want to win football games.”

Andrea Flores is a reporter for CBS4. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @AndreaFloresTV.