The anti-American anthem protests have been a massive headache for the NFL.
What was once the most untouchable brand in all of professional sports, the NFL shield has now become synonymous with player misconduct and unpatriotic displays.
Now anthem protesters are picking a fight with the league that will hurt both parties greatly in the long run.
The NFL has been dealing with bad headlines for years.
New studies on brain science have shown that the repeated head trauma in professional football can lead to catastrophic health outcomes.
A spate of suicides of prominent former players linked to CTE and the subsequent film “Concussion” that touched on the issue have caused the league to scramble for answers.
One rule change involved penalizing and fining players who make head contact when tackling, which led to some horrific officiating.
The referees have been another source of unease for the league. The nebulous “catch rule” continues to baffle fans to this day, but the frustration boiled over when the NFL went to replacement referees.
The experiment quickly ended after a string of horrendous calls, including a botched call that led to Green Bay losing a thriller to Seattle on a blown call at the very end of the game.
But the most urgent problem the league currently faces is the issue of anthem protesters disgracing the American flag.
The disgusting displays started by former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 spiraled out of country in 2017.
The unpatriotic gestures led to a decline in stadium attendance, television ratings, and advertising revenue.
Commissioner Roger Goodell sat idly by for two years as his league’s foundation was cracking.
He finally instituted a policy that would require players to stand for the anthem, or stay in the locker room.
The NFL Players’ Association was furious over the policy change, and now they’ve recently filed a grievance against the league:
JUST IN: NFLPA files grievance challenging NFL’s new anthem policy:
“The union’s claim is that this new policy, imposed by the NFL’s governing body without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights.” pic.twitter.com/YJu7hbrUL9
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 10, 2018
This is a terrible move by the players’ union.
The players are biting the hand that feeds them. Polling numbers suggest the majority of Americans are against kneeling for the anthem, and that number increases when the sample is limited to NFL fans.
If ticket sales, television ratings, and advertising revenue decrease, that’s a smaller piece of the pie for the players.
What’s worse, the union is gearing up to negotiate the next collective bargaining agreement. The players are supposedly pushing for the NFL to adopt the guaranteed salary structure of other major professional sports.
That’s going to be an incredibly tough battle to win if the players are damaging the brand. If anything, that would cause owners to tighten their purse strings.
The union should be more concerned with bringing in new fans, not alienating a large swath of the ones they already have.
After countless protests, the NFL owners ultimately agreed to earmark a total of $90 million to social justice causes of the players’ liking.
The union should’ve taken that small victory. Instead they’re aiming for all-out war, and the result could be dire for them.