The NFL’s ‘Anthem Policy’ Is Pure Hypocrisy

The NFL’s new “anthem policy” requires players to “respect” the flag and the national anthem or stay in the locker room until it is played. The NFL refers to this as a compromise — it was anything but. 

This was a mandate, not a decision arrived at through a collaborative process. Despite claiming that they would consult with the players before making a decision on this issue, the National Football League Players Association said, “The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy.’” So the league and owners will decide what shows “respect.”  

Kneeling is out. The Pittsburgh Steelers indicated that raising a fist or linking arms is out. If one team decides a gesture or posture is respectful but another team doesn’t like it, what will happen? One of the NFL officials actually said, “We will know it when we see it.”  

Tell the NFL: Don't Silence Your Players

Players who want to kneel (or raise a fist or link arms or do some other kind of gesture) are told, “If you do that on the field we will take money away from you.” This is simply a variation of an old, familiar theme. Don’t demonstrate in the street because you block my commute home. Don’t demonstrate downtown, I have shopping to do. Don’t demonstrate at a sporting event because you take away from my entertainment. Why can’t you all just shut up and dribble? 

Telling players to stay in the locker room also rings familiar as well — get to the back of the bus. Get to the other water fountain. Do not appear in public in ways that will threaten or displease white people in America. If you want to protest, do it in a way that white folks don’t have to see it or deal with your claimed injustices.  

And with the collusion to keep Colin Kaepernick out of the league combined with teams asking free agents if they will stand during the anthem, another message is being delivered. Be thankful you are making all that money — you play a game for a living. If we didn’t allow you to be making this money, you would be out there with the rest of “them.” 

President Donald Trump weighed in on players staying in the locker room saying, “Maybe you should not be in the country.” In a country that claims to value free speech and expression, you should be fined or forced to leave the country if you “speak” in a way some don’t like. Orwell would have loved it. 

John Elway and other NFL officials have said that we should “take the politics out of football.” Really? What about the millions of dollars paid to the NFL by the Department of Defense to promote the military? If encouraging people not to serve in the military is a political act, then encouraging them to serve is equally political. What about the show of military aircraft flying overhead and flags streaming across the field? Kneeling during the anthem has nothing to do with being for or against military recruiting, but the Pentagon paid for the NFL to promote the military — an overtly political act — and the NFL has been delivering. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is what it is. The NFL gave up being non-political a long time ago. 

The NFL said the new policy would change “a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic.” Think about that for a minute. There was a false perception that players were unpatriotic, meaning the players kneeling were patriotic. The cure for this false perception is to force players to stand when they would prefer to kneel. By forcing them to stand, the fans will now know they are patriotic. This makes no sense. 

Only one team has said they will stop selling concessions during the anthem. It does not appear that the suspending the selling of beer, hotdogs, banners, and the like was even considered by the group. I guess it is not disrespectful to leave your seat and miss the anthem in order to get a dog and a beer. After all, there is money to be made. And no disrespect is shown by the fans at home who go to the bathroom, grab another beer, or set up the snacks during the anthem. The respect that must be shown must come from the players. 

Houston Texans owner Bob McNair told players last year, “You fellas need to ask your compadres, fellas, stop that other business, let’s go out and do something that really produces positive results, and we’ll help you.” Much has been made of the NFL setting aside money for social justice. The money was not new money to support communities, but re-allocating already designated charitable funds from one issue (breast cancer) to another (social justice). This is what caring means to an institution which was forecast to hit $14 billion in gross revenue last year. 

If people are serious about making a difference, they use whatever platform they have to make that clear. The NFL released its new policy at the same time news was breaking about NBA player Sterling Brown being abused and tased by officers of the Milwaukee Police Department. This is the kind of incident that started the protests. The NFL did not mention this incident in any of its messaging. Apparently speaking out about police abuse in the Black community isn’t something they are interested in during the offseason either. 

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Dr. Timothy Leary

Professional sports is just grown men, playing a kid's game, and acting like babies.

Anonymous

-unathletic Doctor

Diane Barounis

NFL players taking a knee or related acts of protest during the playing of the National Anthem is the essence of political speech and protected by the First Amendment. The players who take such symbolic action during the playing of the National Anthem are honoring the flag by exercising their constitutional right to speak out against injustice. The right to speak out in this way is precisely what our flag stands for! I believe the NFL owners' policy is unconstitutional. NFL players don't lose their First Amendment rights because they are employees of the NFL. I applaud their courage and I hope the ACLU challenges the NFL decision in court.

Anonymous

Plain and simple they are at their workplace. They are not on their off time taking a stand on political or societal views, which would be fine were it the case. When you I or anyone else is at their workplace there are certain things we have to do to follow to maintain propriety and or operate within the confines of our normal working day. And protesting is not something that's covered in my hand book as a necessary work function. It is ironic as they have so much problem dealing with the system as it is but not so much issue with making the millions of dollars the system provides them in their occupation. Everyone should have a voice and they should be able to make it heard, but taking a knee at your workplace is not the Forum now nor will it ever be

Anonymous

In response,to Anonymous's response, the question is contractual. What did their contract state and was it changed without renegotiating?

Anonymous

The 1ST Amendment only protects you from the government limiting your speech. The NFL is not part of the government so the can limit speech just like the ACLU does with their blog censorship.

Evelyn Ortiz

Tim Tebow took a knee in 2012 during the National Anthem protesting against abortion. I saw no backlash on "tebowing."

Rob

Tim Tebow did NOT take a knee during the anthem. Check snopes and you'll see the meme claiming so is fake.

FidelChe

Anonymous: Actually, the working class' greatest gains have come through protesting at work.

Amy Rose

Will the ACLU file a suit against the NFL on behalf of players who kneel, against this new policy?

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