Short of requiring NFL players to sing the pledge of allegiance individually before every game, the NFL has handled the controversy surrounding national anthem player protests about as poorly as they could.
Colin Kaepernick, who was recently named poster boy for Nike’s new ad campaign, kicked off the protests a couple years back to draw attention to police brutality and the mistreatment of African-Americans. Other players followed suit, causing much consternation amongst certain demographics in the NFL fanbase as well as certain Presidents of the United States. It became clear that many owners around the league wanted the issue to go away while others didn’t understand why the protests were happening in the first place. So, their big idea was to require players on the field to stand for the national anthem, while also giving them the option to remain in the locker room during the song. It was not received well by players. That boiled over when it was leaked that the Miami Dolphins were considering setting punishments for players who protested during the anthem. Two months after it was enacted, the league put its new anthem policy on the shelf and went back to the drawing board.
As we prepare for the first Sunday of the 2018-2019 NFL regular season, word has come down that there will, in fact, be no policy regarding the national anthem this year.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the new policy is….no policy.
Too many people have stances too strong to figure out a compromise, but an NFL official insisted Sunday morning that there is continuing dialogue on the topic as the league looks for ways to address social justice issues.
In the end, the NFL blinked and did so as their biggest critic, Donald Trump, continued his red meat barrage on the league’s falling ratings and the supposed reasons for that. Whatever happens next, the NFL is bound to make a bad decision, so we’ll keep an eye out for that.
It should be noted that only two players took a knee and one player sat during the anthem during the preseason, though it stands to reason that many players are likely saving their statements for the regular season.