Ever since Colin Kaepernick began kneeling for the national anthem, the NFL has been defined as a league of anti-military protesters.

Politics is just a part of the NFL now.

And one NFL team made a political statement that took everyone by surprise.

The New York Giants played their final preseason game on Sunday against the New England Patriots.

For the players fighting and clawing for the spots on both team’s 53 man rosters, it was important.

But New York Giants head coach Joe Judge and his players put the game in perspective when Judge took the field wearing a United States Marine Corp hat while several players wore camouflage hats to honor the 13 fallen soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan.

After the game, Judge told reporters the Giants honored the slain soldiers because what the team does on the field every Sunday is just a game and that Judge gets letters all the time from troops stationed overseas telling him how much they love rooting for the Giants while on deployment.

Judge stated:

Look, obviously we lost 13 soldiers this past week in Afghanistan. I get pictures all the time of people wearing Giants hats, people wearing Giants T-shirts, letters from all over, soldiers overseas, letting us know, ‘Hey, we’re overseas, but we’re rooting for you.’ It’s great that they’re rooting for our team, I think it’s more important we all acknowledge we’re on the same team and that we’re supporting them as well. So we appreciate everything they do, we want to see them all come home safely and obviously we don’t want to see anyone lose their lives, you know, needlessly.

So I’d say in terms of wearing the hats, I thought it was a good opportunity to just go ahead and draw some awareness that there were 11 Marines that lost their lives this week, one Naval, one Army as well. We had all three services represented at the coin toss with the captains going out there. Our team, we stay very in tune to the first responders, the military, the people that really make what we do, which is coach and play a game, possible.

I think it’s important to keep that in perspective that, look, the reality is, it’s serious to us because it’s serious business, right? That’s what it is. It’s a production business, we’re paid very handsomely to go out there and do a job as a player or a coach, but at the end day it is a game, it’s entertainment, right? That’s what it is. Now, they’re playing life or death. It’s important that we keep in perspective what we do and that we stay very grateful and we acknowledge what they’re doing on a daily basis so that we can go out there and do this professionally and be involved with the game.

For the last several seasons the league has fought with fans who opposed kneeling for the national anthem because it disrespected the veterans who lost their lives fighting under the American flag.

At least for one day, Joe Judge and the New York Giants acknowledged that reality.

Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any new developments in this ongoing story.