NFL’s New Policy on Kneeling is Weak-Kneed
by Termity Forthright
The new policy from the NFL commissioner and team owners in response to players kneeling during the National Anthem will please no one.
Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday that a new “policy” would require football players on the sidelines to stand, while allowing others players who remain in the locker room to kneel.
Goodell said the team owners voted unanimously to approve the policy, but that’s not true. San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York abstained. San Francisco is (or was) the home of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who first kneeled during the National Anthem in protest before a pre-season game in August of 2016. That started a string of protests among players around the league that included kneeling and holding up clenched fists.
To complicate the issue, New York Jets CEO Christopher Johnson, brother of team owner Woody Johnson, said he would personally pay any fines levied against players who kneeled. He also said none of his Jets players would be fined or suspended by his team for kneeling.
The NFL’s initial response to the public outrage and negative publicity to players kneeling was negligible. It was as if the NFL politely requested that players might maybe want to think about the possibility of whether they could perhaps consider standing during the National Anthem.
Football fans around the country, however, responded with protests of their own. Fans didn’t buy game tickets. They didn’t buy season tickets. They threw away team jerseys. They burned memorabilia collections. Fans stopped attending games in person and they stopped watching games on TV. That meant fans also stopped watching advertiser’s commercials. And they stopped buying over-priced player and team merchandise.
Bottom line, the fans hurt the NFL’s bottom line.
So after nearly two years of whining about what they should do, the NFL commissioner and team owners came up with this weak-kneed new policy without consulting NFLPA, the players association. A spokesman for NFLPA promised to “review the new ‘policy’ and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”
In other words, the players association will protest the policy that was created as a result of their original protest.
Players Coalition leader Malcolm Jenkins was critical of the league’s attempt to “thwart the players’ constitutional rights to express themselves and use our platform to draw attention to social injustices like racial inequality in our country.” (The defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles earns almost $9 million a year.)
This new policy is guaranteed to appease no one.
Football fans won’t be happy, since players will still be allowed to kneel. Although the players will be out of sight of the fans, they will not be out of mind.
Football players won’t be happy because, although they will be allowed to kneel, they will be out of sight of the all-important cameras.
Team owners won’t be happy because their players will be divided on the issue, and therefore won’t all be on the field together for the traditional opening ceremonies, and the National Anthem.
And NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell won’t be happy because he hasn’t resolved anything and everybody will be mad at him.
Image from washingtonpost.com