NFL players have continued to protest the National Anthem despite the immense backlash.
Every team has had some sort of response to Trump’s comments about firing players who disrespect the flag either by kneeling, locking arms, or staying in the locker room.
But it’s clear that the NFL owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell have had enough and are planning to take action.
Ratings are down in the NFL and there is no doubt it’s because of players kneeling during the anthem.
It started with former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and now the bottom line for the NFL and its owners are starting to see—and feel—the impact from it.
So Roger Goodell issued a statement about the continuing protests.
“I am very proud of our players and owners who have done the hard work over the past year to listen, understand and attempt to address the underlying issues within their community.”
“We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues,” he wrote. “The controversy over the anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sung a very different tune, however, saying from this upcoming week forward, if any of his players should kneel during the National Anthem, they won’t play.
And now it seems other owners are about to board his decision and finally make a rule change.
Business Insider reports:
“As the NFL continues to be embroiled in controversy over players protesting during the national anthem, team owners are reportedly considering making a change.
According to Dow Jones (via CNBC), NFL owners are considering the addition of a new rule that would require players stand for the national anthem.
The report cites an anonymous league spokesperson. Such a rule would be controversial, though not unlike other sports.
The NBA, for instance, has a rule that requires players to stand for the anthem. NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently said the league expects players to follow the rule this season.
While the NFL would be within its rights to require players to stand, surely some people (not to mention players) would not like the league trying to silence something many would consider a civil liberty in an open forum, even if technically the NFL is a private company.
Critics of those who oppose the protests often argue the NFL has already blurred the lines of a private company by using the national anthem at all and having it so tightly linked to honoring the military.
If a tradition not related to football (the anthem) is played, why do players have to honor it?
The Dow Jones report comes after Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on Sunday that any Cowboys player that is disrespectful to the flag “will not play.”
When Jones was asked about his comments on Monday, he cited an obscure league manual that said players “should” stand for the anthem. As Deadspin noted, the language in the manual changed slightly from a 2014 version, with the newer version threatening different disciplinary action.
On Tuesday, league spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters that the change was made in 2015, according to USA Today’s Nancy Armour.
He also noted the difference between the manual saying players “should” stand vs. “must.”
Make no mistake, the owners want these protests to end and they will implement rule changes to stop the rapid decline of their ratings.
So expect some major changes soon.