ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 17: Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank stands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell prior to the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 17, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

One thing is clear: the national anthem protests aren’t going away anytime soon. NFL officials, several owners and a group of players met this week to discuss how the league, its organizations and its players should address the issue moving forward. According to the New York Times, the league did not instruct teams and players to end the protests .

Through the first two weeks of the season, the protests had been confined to half a dozen players with a handful of others showing gestures of solidarity. Then President Donald Trump called for “son of a bitch” NFL players who are protesting to get “fired,” and as you can probably guess if you didn’t already know, players, team officials and league executives didn’t appreciate those remarks at all.

In Week 3, over 200 NFL players, including some full teams, knelt or showed solidarity by linking arms. The movement also spread to MLB with A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell kneeling last Saturday with his hand over his heart.

According to the NY Times, the general consensus around the NFL is to not push Trump, who’s known for making inflammatory, off-the-cuff comments. But it appears the league is honorably defending its players’ rights above all else, as this quote from Falcons owner Arthur Blank shows:

“The players have a right to speak their minds, but on the other hand, it can make it difficult because there isn’t anyone in America who doesn’t want to honor America,” Arthur Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Falcons, said in an interview. “You talk to other owners and the commissioner, they feel the same way, they support the players.”

Part of the issue is ever since Trump’s scathing comments about the NFL and its players, the protests’ original message about social injustice has become shrouded. For example, during preseason Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers previously said he supports players who choose to protest during the anthem in “a battle for racial inequality.” But after Thursday night’s win over the Bears, Rodgers addressed media and called the protests “an invitation to show unity in the face of some divisiveness from the top.”

And even with the NFL sticking up for its players, they can’t provide protection from pissed off fans. Titans tight end Delanie Walker posted to Instagram that he’s been receiving death threats ever since he defended NFL players’ right to protest. While many Americans have called the protests unpatriotic and disrespectful to the military, Walker explained he’s protesting to honor the armed forces after gaining inspiration during a USO Tour in the Middle East this past spring:

That’s a beautiful message from Walker, but unfortunately his message about the military — one that other players have expressed, too — does not appear to have gotten through to those who have criticized this movement. Those who are protesting believe they are standing up for the flag and the military, not disrespecting them.

Even if you disagree with the protests’ original message about racial inequality or the manner in which they’ve been executed, using hateful, violent and especially racist language won’t move this conversation anywhere.

[New York Times]

About Jesse Kramer

Jesse is a writer and editor for The Comeback. He has also worked for and runs The Catch and Shoot, a college basketball website based in Chicago. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Follow Jesse on Twitter @Jesse_Kramer.

2 thoughts on “NFL still figuring out how to handle national anthem protests moving forward

  1. I for many years have followed a movement in health-related circles that believes in “removing the cause,” which is contended to be a very simple issue. Here, the simple issue is Colin Kaepernick. Either the league, or a considerable number of people in it, need to completely open up about their feelings about him, or we can just continue to expect more of the same: wide-ranging differences of opinion about what he stands (OK, kneels) for; whether his beliefs will ever be really, conclusively reconciled with the feelings of (say) the pro-patriots; and, most importantly, whether we as a community will ever get back to truly enjoying this NFL season.


Comments are closed.