A number of team owners in the National Football League are confident that fans can expect to see a major change in the league’s national anthem policy after season’s end if players keep on protesting the patriotic pregame ritual.
Many NFL owners believe that the league could very easily revert back to a previous approach, where players were kept in the locker room during the anthem.
“I think that if players are still kneeling at the end of the year, then it could very well happen,” an individual familiar with owners’ talks concerning the protests expressed. the owners’ deliberations on anthem-related issues, according to the Washington Post. “It’s too early to tell.”
Things must change …
Even though he was not sure whether a formal owner vote over the issue would be required to enforce the change, he is confident that most NFL owners would support it.
“I think most owners would support it, particularly if players continue to kneel this season,” the NFL owner added.
It was not pinpointed just how many owners support the policy change, but some deemed it inappropriate to make such a change in the middle of the season. However, their common consensus was that most would agree to a change in policy to keep any more fed-up NFL fans from finding another Sunday pastime.
“But they agreed that if the protests last all season and remain intensely controversial among fans, the issue will be raised during the offseason and a policy change to having players remain in the locker room until the anthem’s conclusion would have the support of a significant number of owners,” The Washington Post reported. “They said the matter could be addressed at the annual league meeting in March.”
One official with an NFL franchise who is savvy to his team’s thinking on the matter also believes that a policy change is imminent.
“It would certainly have to be considered very strongly,” the official who wished to remain anonymous explained.
Setting the stage …
Players did not always appear on the gridiron for the anthem, but eight years ago, it has been mandatory for all players to be on the field during the weekly tribute to America and all it stands for.
“The change to having players and coaches on the sideline for the anthem was made in 2009,” the Post’s Mark Maske explained. “The current league policy says that players must be on the sideline for the anthem. It suggests – but does not require – that players stand for the anthem.”
Starting last year with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the anthem(s), more and more players followed in his footsteps this year to draw attention to police brutality and “racial injustice,” and even though the players were penalized for their actions, many NFL fans and conservative critics insist that it was not enough.
“At various points this season, some players – including full teams – have remained off the field during the playing of the anthem,” Maske recounted. “They have not been fined or otherwise disciplined by the NFL.”
Under more scrutiny
The controversy gained so much national attention that even President Donald Trump voiced his frustration with the NFL for allowing players – who millions of youth consider as role models – to disrespect the nation in front of millions of football fans.
“The league has been under intense pressure from President Trump and some fans to require players to stand during the anthem,” Maske added. “In September, Trump said during a campaign speech in Alabama that owners should fire any player who protested during the anthem. His fiery speech included a reference to such a player being a ‘son of a …,’ and it fueled an intense national controversy over the issue.”
Despite NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell’s announcement at a press conference last month that all NFL players should stand for the national anthem, this did little to quell the storm or resuscitate NFL attendance and TV ratings.
In fact, Trump suggested that Goodell has been remiss in disciplining his league’s players and recommended the appropriate punishments for disrespecting police, the military and everything the United States stands for.
“The NFL has been under pressure from the White House in the face of continued protests, with President Donald Trump in September suggesting those taking a knee should be fired,” Newsmax reported. “On Monday, Trump called for Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch to be suspended for the remainder of the season after Lynch sat for the U.S. anthem, but stood for the Mexican anthem during a game in Mexico City.”
Trump’s tweet last Monday morning gave Goodell some advice on how to run his league.
“Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem. Great disrespect!” Trump posted on Twitter. “Next time, NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down.”’
The Raiders’ coach’s wife and Lynch’s mom both blasted Trump for his criticism of the running back, and Lynch took his opposition of Trump to another level.
“Lynch joined the hundreds of players who responded to Trump’s gripe by protesting, but the Raiders back went a step further when he sported an ‘Everybody vs. Trump’ T-shirt before Oakland’s Week 4 game against the Broncos,” NYDailyNews.com informed. “Trump’s blasts against Lynch followed the president’s ripping of basketball dad LaVar Ball on Sunday for being ‘unaccepting’ of Trump’s role in facilitating Ball’s son LiAngelo’s return from China after his arrest for shoplifting.”