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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Anonymous

I truly think that the protests against police are misguided. Officers have an extremely difficult job. Too often people are hostile and abusive towards the police. Maybe the ACLU should focus more on protecting the police.

Also there is a time and place for protests. The NFL provides entertainment. The NFL has an obligation to its owners and to its fans to provide the entertainment that paying fans want to see. If paying fans don't want to see on field protests then the NFL has an obligation to stop the onfield protests.

Anonymous

How about explaining why police are often nicer to white people in the same situation?

Anonymous

Your mindset and how you approach a situation can affect how the other person responds to you. Other people pick up on your body language and can tell if you are feeling defensive, hostile, evasive, nervous, etc but they can't read your mind and see why. We don't even consciously process a lot of what we perceive through nonverbal communication. White people generally don't fear and mistrust police so they come across as more relaxed and friendly. When you are relaxed and friendly you have better interactions with others. Of course, that is an EXTREME generalization as I've known plenty of black people who get along just fine with cops and some white people that don't.

Anonymous

How come the half time sex shows aren't under criticism?

Anonymous

Because you aren't allowed to objectify scantily clad women!

L Braun

Isn't there a law that protects citizens from being forced to venerate the flag? To many religious groups this is considered idol worship along with saluting the flag. was ruled as optional in the courts decades ago.

Anonymous

Free speech does not 100% extend to the workplace. My employer limits my expression of political or social views in the workplace or anywhere were I represent them. The firing of Roseanne Barr was a legal limitation of her free speech by her employer.

I do not agree with the NFL's policy and I do agree with ABC's firing of Ms. Barr, but, my agreement or disagreement is irrelevant.

NFL players and other celebrities have more avenues of public protest than most of us do and as long as the league does not attempt to extend their policy into their private lives (with public personality it is a tricky line to find) I believe the NFL and ABC are both within their rights.

I support the ACLU not, because they attempt to defend those whose opinions I agree with but, that they are willing to defend the expression of opinion - period.

Anonymous

Since they are working for a private organization it is really not a first amendment issue. If the government were enforcing a policy like this it would be different but since it is non governmental I don't see how this violates free speech.

Sick of all the...

If you work for a company and they have uniforms and they tell you to wear a uniform, you wear it or no job. They have rules and you follow them. The NFL has uniforms, you wear them because you are hired to perform a job. If your boss tells you to stand you stand, or get the boot - out the door. The NFL is made up of a bunch of wanna be's, ex cons, tattoo artists, pretty boys and look at me's, They think they are king crap and can do whatever they want without any consequences, ie dog fights, murder, rape, AND which includes kneeling and defacing the American flag and it's national anthem. HEY ya'all...Look at me i am kneeling i am protesting ! Fine protest...thats the American way... but protest out of uniform !!! You work for a boss and its NFL, if you don't like it take off the uniform and stop using it as a battering ram for your selfish desires. My dad, family and friends DIED for the America and its flag, and NOT for you to disgrace its blood and i say you will stand and honor it if it kills you. If not, leave the USA.

akeya

I bet you are the first one every Sunday in front of the TV watching the nfl.so shut your face.

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