Common's responding to President Trump's bashing of "son of a bitch" NFL players who take a knee during the anthem by going another route -- calmly praising the man who did it first as a hero.

We got the rapper at LAX Friday night, shortly after Trump's comments at a rally in Alabama, and he says it's every American's right to express themselves and stand up for what they believe in ... and thinks guys like Colin Kaepernick have saved people's lives by doing so.

Common also took time to commend the 8-year-old youth football team who held a protest of their own in Illinois ... calling them an inspiration.

As we reported ... Trump encouraged NFL owners to fire players who don't stand for the anthem and told fans to walk out of stadiums if they see a player doing it.

Roger Goodell clapped back at the prez ... calling him disrespectful.

YOU'RE FIRED!
FOX News