San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the National Anthem has turned into the story that will never die. The latest wrinkle in this story has to do with the American flag decal on the back of every NFL players’ helmet.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk asked the league about whether players can remove the flag decal from their helmets. An NFL spokesperson said that players are not allowed to remove the sticker.
Florio went on to say that he believes this policy has more to do with the NFL’s uniform policies.
The rule likely has more to do with the NFL’s insistence of uniformity, especially since the NFL does not require players to stand for the anthem. The league wants all players to look and dress the same, with limited exceptions tied to breast cancer awareness games in October and the Salute to Service every November.
However, it is common for players to deliberately violate the NFL’s strict uniform rules. During the 2015 season, Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams wore pink throughout the season to honor his mother, who died of breast cancer. The NFL didn’t sympathize with Williams and fined him throughout the season.
This season, the league denied the Dallas Cowboys the right to put a decal on their helmet honoring the Dallas Police Department. Easy to say, the NFL does not care about its players’ right to look different from their teammate.
As for the American flag decal, this latest story means we will all have to watch and see if any players remove the decal from their helmet during the final preseason game and during the regular season. Because what else would you want to do during a football game besides looking at the details on the back of a player’s helmet?