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Tags: Colin Kaepernick | Donald Trump | Trump VP Pick | NFLAnthemprotest | policeracism | Kaepernick

Will the NFL Fumble the Anthem Kneel Political Football?

Will the NFL Fumble the Anthem Kneel Political Football?
(Mohamed Ahmed Soliman/Dreamstime)

By    |   Wednesday, 18 October 2017 03:07 PM

To kneel, or not to kneel. That is the question. It’s an issue that has become the biggest political football in NFL history. Kneeling during the national anthem has been met with counter-protests, from Vice President Mike Pence walking out when players knelt, to fan boycotts of games, merchandise, and league sponsors. That’s a lot of protests — protesting other protests.

With both sides digging in deeper, this issue will be in primetime for a long time. Meanwhile, the whiten oise is drowing out these significant aspects of the controversy: 

1. The Trump administration fumbled a winning issue when it should have scored easily. A majority of Americans disapprove of NFL players kneeling during, or not appearing for, the national anthem. So how did the White House capitalize on that sentiment? It had the vie president very publicly storm out of a game when players took a knee. Had Mr. Pence’s action been impromptu, it would have generated significant support. But because he told the press that he would return to his motorcade shortly after entering the game (demonstrating that his plan was a calculated gimmick), his decision was roundly ridiculed.

2. Political stunts don’t win hearts and minds. Genuine leadership does. A winning formula for which the White House still needs significantly better coaching.

3. Too many are misinterpreting freedom of expression. Unequivocally, NFL players operating during work hours do not have a "right" to protest. He must follow workplace rules exactly the same way that employees in every other profession do. Those who disagree simply do not understand employment law. From uniform regulations to punctuality to conduct, teams set rules. Fail to comply, and there are consequences.

The bottom line is that if the NFL or individual teams allow players to protest the anthem, so be it. They, as private entities, have the right to make that call. Likewise, if they choose to mandate participation, the players would have a contractual obligation to comply. Therefore, protesting the anthem is a workplace privilege afforded to players by the team owner. But it is not a “right.”

4. The phrase "my right" has been bandied around so often (most of the time incorrectly) that it now serves to embolden an already-entitled generation to think they can do and say whatever they please, whenever they want, with no repercussions. They can’t.

5. Former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who initiated the anthem protest, filed a grievance against the NFL, alleging that owners are colluding to keep him unemployed. Kaepernick has little chance of winning because he doesn’t understand that the NFL cares about only two things: winning games and making money. Sure, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell dabbles in politically correct, social engineering issues (such as transgender bathrooms), but his primary focus is making the league as much money as possible.

Translation? Owners don’t want to pay millions to a political crusader like Kaepernick, not just because his cause is extremely divisive and spills into the locker room, but more important, it doesn’t win football games. Let’s not forget that it was he who walked away from his contract. Kaepernick’s banishment to the sidelines isn’t collusion. It’s common sense by owners, and a situation entirely of his own making.

6. It’s not without irony that the Confederate flag, which has been under withering attack lately, was defeated by forces representing the Stars and Stripes. Yet now, players whose freedom and wealth directly result from Old Glory, see fit to turn their backs on it. Protesting racism in all its forms is laudable, but they choose the worst possible way to do so.

7. Commissioner Goodell and some owners have abruptly reversed course. Now, they are contemplating a rule mandating anthem participation. If they follow through, it will be the right thing for the wrong reason, since their motivation is about the almighty dollar. And for good reason. Ratings and attendance have been plummeting — even before the anthem controversy.

Why? Because the NFL has become an inferior product. Fans are sick of "all-about-me" players dueling to perform the most insulting antic after a touchdown (such as pretending to urinate on a fire hydrant) despite their team being down by 30. Add in steroid use, drug arrests, DUIs, assaults, domestic violence, and even murders, combined with fewer children playing, and you have the recipe for a dying game.

The NFL has done some stupid things, but the Commissioner and owners should be smart enough to know that, if they don’t handle the anthem issue correctly, it could become the sack from which they can’t recover. 

8. Let’s talk about the reason behind the protests. Is there racism within some police forces? Absolutely. Is it endemic? Absolutely not, and nowhere near the levels of decades ago. But we must be honest that racism comes in all colors: white cops not liking blacks, black cops resenting whites, etc. All racism should be purged, but it is critical to remember that the percentage of police officers falling into that category is extremely small, probably lower than in most other jobs.

The protesters’ lack of credibility is because their narrative changes oh-so-conveniently. If a white cop shoots a black man, he’s "racist." But if a black officer shoots a black man, he’s either a "sellout" or, by default, the entire force is racist. You can’t have it both ways.

Two things are usually true after police shootings, that the shoot was justified (and, as in Ferguson, had nothing to do with race); or that it was questionable but legal, the result of an officer’s less-than-ideal judgement in a difficult situation. On the rare occasions when it is a bad shoot, officers face the full weight of the law.

Racism is almost never a factor in shootings because it makes no sense. Who goes on patrol with the intent to target black people, and, when they move, blast away? No one. And that’s not just because it’s wrong, but the price is too high: job loss; unemployability; prison time; wrecked families; and death threats. Again, that doesn’t mean the bad apples shouldn’t be removed. But focusing so much energy on "racist police" is largely wasteful, deflecting attention from more relevant issues.

To broadly label as "racist" America’s men and women in blue, and the prosecutors who exonerate them after justified shootings, is inexcusable.

If NFL players took a knee to honor those who catch bullets instead of passes, and tackle criminals instead of millionaire players, it would be the best play call they’d ever make.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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If NFL players took a knee to honor those who catch bullets instead of passes, and tackle criminals instead of millionaire players, it would be the best play call they’d ever make.
NFLAnthemprotest, policeracism, Kaepernick
Wednesday, 18 October 2017 03:07 PM
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