The NFL's Misplaced Loyalty
The league has a long history of enforcing behavior rules for players, so why not for anthem protesters?
Much like the mainstream media blaming President Donald Trump’s criticism as the reason it has lost the trust of the American public, the leadership of the NFL and many of its players have sought to level the lion’s share of blame for the league’s tanking ratings and loss of fans on Trump and his criticism of players kneeling to protest during the national anthem.
However, as has been noted before, the NFL brought this contentious issue upon itself by failing to act decisively in setting rules against protesting during the anthem. The league made a half-hearted attempt in May — two years too late — but has effectively backed off even that.
It’s not like the NFL leadership never penalized players or teams for actions it believed detracted from the product. For example, back in 2012, the league forbid outspoken Christian Tim Tebow from wearing eye-black stickers with Bible verse references printed on them. Or take all the variety of rules the league has created surrounding celebrations. How about all those uniform rules? In 2013, Brandon Marshall was fined by the league for wearing green cleats in his bid to raise awareness for mental health disorders. In 2015, DeAngelo Williams was fined for wearing “Find the Cure” eye-black for breast cancer awareness. And maybe the worst example of the league behaving like rule-nazis was disallowing the Dallas Cowboys from wearing a helmet decal honoring the five Dallas police officers killed in the line of duty by a deranged anti-police bigot in 2016.
In other words, the NFL has a long history of strictly imposing seemingly arbitrary rules beyond those that directly impact the playing of the sport itself. And, of course, as a private enterprise, it is fully within the NFL’s authority to do so, as team owners are concerned primarily with successfully selling their product. That is what makes the continued saga of the anthem kneeling protests so ridiculous. This was a problem the league could have easily dealt with right after Colin Kaepernick first engaged in his disrespectful display, but, fearing bad publicity from the Leftmedia, the NFL chose to sit on the sidelines. The irony here is that the NFL has lost more fans than it ever would have if leadership had stepped up right away with a strict policy demanding players stand and show respect during the anthem or get fined. Now the NFL is caught between a rock and a hard place of trying to placate the sensitivities of social justice warriors and the Leftmedia, while at the same time attempting to claim it’s concerned with showing respect for our nation and the Patriots who died fighting for her.
On an interesting final note, ESPN’s “solution” to the controversy is to not televise the pre-game national anthem ceremony during its broadcast of Monday Night Football. There, they fixed it.