NFL Takes a Knee on Anthem Protests
Even if you don’t follow pro football you are likely aware that there was considerable controversy last season over National Anthem protests by NFL players.
While it started with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 it ramped up last season as some players and even teams “took a knee” during the playing of the anthem to make a statement against police brutality and racial inequity in the justice system.
That action drew the ire of league officials, owners, fans and even President Trump and had a negative impact on TV ratings and NFL business in general.
In an attempt to ensure this becomes more of a non-issue this coming season the NFL yesterday adopted a new policy regarding anthem protests but you can sure you have not heard the last of this because players are not happy.
Owners approved the new measures which permit players who don’t want to stand during the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” to remain in the locker room. However all team and NFL personnel on the field must stand and if they don’t comply the team will be fined. The league has also given individual clubs the power to set their own policies against those who do not show appropriate respect for the flag and anthem.
All of this does not sit well with the NFL Players Association who was not involved in any discussions or consulted on the new policy and will challenge anything they believe violates the collective bargaining agreement.
By the way the San Francisco 49ers abstained from voting on the new policy and New York Jets Chairman Christopher Johnson said he will not penalize any players who feel the need to protest even if it results in fines against the organization which will be paid by the team.
I made my opinions known last year which did not sit well with some. I am opposed to players protesting during the anthem but I do NOT believe it was in any way disrespectful to the flag as well as those who serve or have served in the military.
At the same time I do believe teams more than the league itself have a right to tell players they cannot protest on the field because those players are employees and the owner signs the paycheck and can set rules and regulations.
At the end of the day this issue is about much more than taking a knee.