Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins has raised his fist for the last two years during the anthem as a sign of defiance - not a protest against the flag - and was one of the players' recognized leaders as they protested the shooting of unarmed Black men and the treatment of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, blackballed by National Football League teams ever since he initiated the social justice protests, which have somehow been construed as unpatriotic.
The NBA is only other major sports league that has an anthem policy that requires players to stand for the anthem. The owners quake in dread of a presidential tweet storm against the NFL. They took an informal consensus among the owners. Eight to ten owners had privately been telling people they favored keeping the old policy. This might make the Jets' Johnson's stance seem unnecessary. "I would never be OK with somebody not saluting the flag". "I know what they did was not it".
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., called it "an affront to the ideals I hold dear", the NFL Players Association maintained that players had "shown their patriotism through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about", and Philadelphia Eagles safety - and prominent protester - Malcolm Jenkins said it "thwart [ed] the players' constitutional rights". There are some big, complicated issues that we're all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines.
"We are bringing them out by the thousands as you know, we are setting records, this is a record tat I don't even like talking about it because it's so ridiculous, they shouldn't even be in the country", he continued. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. "If the team gets fined, that's just something I'll have to bear".
"They are just playing to their fan base and they are just basically trying the use the anthem as fake patriotism, nationalism, scaring people".
You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there.
It had largely vanished by last September when Trump declared any kneeler a "son of a bitch" and said they should be fired for insulting the flag and the nation. But they chose Door #3, and arbitrarily decided what rights the players have or don't have. And now the National Football League is pandering to Trump. By the end of last season, only a handful of players were kneeling.
After moving the ball forward in positive ways, Goodell and the owners inexplicably have fumbled the ball, picked it up and begun running in the wrong direction.
Currently, NFL regulations say that players "should" stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner".
In this country, we honor our flag because it represents the freedoms afforded to us through the sacrifice of others. Instead the decision puts the focus back on the kneeling protest and opens another door for Trump to comment on it again. The players who protest feel strongly that they must do so to highlight social injustice.
Congratulations to the NFL, which has managed to please nearly nobody, rile up nearly everyone, ensure that a fading controversy has re-erupted, and virtually guarantee that the debate over national-anthem protests will take on a new, longer-lasting and evermore divisive life. "They weren't disrespecting the flag or the military". That might be news to all the teams, including the Seahawks, that did that regularly as a show of unity.
The Steelers were at the center of the anthem controversy a year ago during Week 3 in Chicago when the players decided en masse to wait inside the tunnel leading to Soldier Field while the anthem was played. I thought there was a better way to protest, however, that opportunity is lost now.