Categories Politics

Sure, Let’s Discuss the NFL National Anthem Protests

Republicans might be on the verge of passing some kind of tax reform as part of President Trump’s agenda, but that topic is far less interesting than the current raging debate over NFL players protesting during the National Anthem. President Trump staring the outrage last Friday when he made comments during an Alabama rally that the NFL owners should get that “son of a bi***” off the field for taking a knee during the anthem.


Here were are in the firestorm, six days later, at the start of Week 4 in the National Football League. Thursday Night Football kicks off later with Green Bay vs. Chicago, a longstanding rivalry. However, it’s the “anthem plans” that have fans fuming mad at the league, owners, and players:

A request by Green Bay Packers players for fans to join them in a show of unity during the national anthem before their game Thursday apparently did little to calm the debate.

Packers fans on Wednesday continued to blast the NFL, the team and players for what they perceive as showing disrespect for the nation, the flag, the military or the national anthem by sitting, kneeling, remaining in the locker room or locking arms during the national anthem. Supporters say players are peacefully exercising their free speech rights on the best stage available.

“We’ve had a steady stream of feedback beginning Monday morning and it continued into Wednesday. We’ve heard on both sides of the matter,” said Aaron Popkey, Packers director of public affairs. “We take note of their concerns.”

The Packers play the Chicago Bears at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in a nationally televised game that follows a weekend when all but one NFL team staged some show of unity or protest.

If you ask any of the players taking the knee, they will tell you they are not protesting the flag, or the anthem, or America in general. If you’ll recall, the original kneeling started as a protest against police brutality with San Francisco 49ers Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. However, with the President adding his two cents to the matter, the protest has now been mislabeled as a protest of the National Anthem or the flag itself.

The sports news website SBNation attempted to answer the question directly from players as to why they felt so strongly in taking a knee during the National Anthem:

Players are protesting the injustices people of color still face in America today. Eric Reid, who protested with Kaepernick during 2016 (and still is in 2017), wrote an op-ed in The New York Times that explained why they took a knee:

“We spoke at length about many of the issues that face our community, including systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system. We also discussed how we could use our platform, provided to us by being professional athletes in the N.F.L., to speak for those who are voiceless.”

“After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former NFL player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.”

Whether you agree or not with the tactic, clearly some thought was put into it. Sitting on the bench seemed disrespectful, so the action of kneeling seemed like a worthy action to simultaneously respect the importance of the Anthem, but also point out what Kaepernick and others feel was a serious injustice in American society.

Well, fast forward from the 2016 season to the 2017 season, and here we are with the issue now becoming a nationally debated topic, with the President at the helm fueling the fire.

Polling on the subject among the public at large is mixed, though most polls seem to find that the majority of those polled agree with the President that the protests during the Anthem are inappropriate.

However, polls also show that Americans think the President has more important things to tackle (no excuse for the pun), and don’t think players should be fired if they choose to participate in the #TakeAKnee protest:

Seventy-six percent of those who think it’s inappropriate said players should only protest outside of their professional life. Another 13 percent think they shouldn’t protest at all and 8 percent think they should find a different way to protest during football games.

Still, only 30 percent of Americans think players who kneel during the anthem should be fired from their team.

The poll was conducted from Sept. 25 to 26 among 1,000 people. The margin of error is 4.1 percent.

The move by Trump to attack the NFL is likely a calculated one, according to Politico:

Trump’s clash with the NFL is extending into its fourth day, and while it’s pulling attention from heated debates on health care and tax reform, those around the president say he sees the issue as a way to reconnect with his base.

“He knows it’ll get people stirred up and talking about it,” a senior administration official said. [Emphasis added]

The official added the Trump fears his supporters may be feeling neglected after he decided to not immediately cut off protections for undocumented young immigrants known as Dreamers and after he cut a deal with Democrats on the debt ceiling and government funding.

People are in fact stirred up, and talking about it. Where it ends is anyone’s guess. So far, the NFL has felt a minor crunch in ratings, and there are legions of angry fans on social media posting videos showing their season tickets and favorite jerseys being trashed and/or burned. Whether the numbers amount to a serious dent in league revenue will likely determine the resolution.

Nate Ashworth :Nate Ashworth is the Founder and Senior Editor of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for almost a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016.

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  • I have been a diehard San Francisco 49er fan for over 45 years. That relationship for me came to an abrupt halt last Sunday. I think that there are a lot of people around the US who feel the same way.?

    The NFL is nothing but a business. I understand that the night game last Sunday had a 10% ratings drop. From an article I read that is something like a 200 million dollar loss.?

    When stadiums around the league are only partly full and viewership is down, the owners of the teams will quickly take notice. These wealthy men didn't become wealthy by being stupid. If their employees don't toe the line, they will quickly become ex-employees.?

  • It’s a libertarian issue. Rand Paul says if he were president, he would NOT have gotten involved in Trump’s NFL tantrum.

    Ted Cruz says, “I believe in free speech for people I agree with and people I disagree with,” he said. “Colin Kaepernick has every right to say what he wants to. He has every right. If he wants to disrespect the flag, he can.”

    Meanwhile, Reason magazine says, “Donald Trump has chosen to cynically and idiotically fan the flames of this phony controversy, dividing the nation.”

    Gary Johnson says it’s a silly diversion from real issues.

    It’s also a clever way for Trump to distract people from two giant failures in one week—backing the losing senate candidate, and Trumpcare going down in flames. Again.

    This is the best argument—by a sports host—from Texas.


    • Rand Paul's, and Cruz's, comments indicate why they aren't (and never will be) president. Those 2 wimps don't have the backbone to be tough.

      I do agree that Trump used the football issue to distract the media from something else. He done the same thing before.

    • You are correct in saying that the sports host had a good commentary. There could be a 100 more such commentaries and it wouldn't change my mind or that of others one bit.?

      Until the NFL players stop acting like sheep and or whiny children, they can keep their game. After all football is just that a game. God gave these guys great athletic abilities and they are in the process of killing the goose that laid the golden egg, aka the NFL.?

      • The issue is, who has the right to restrict another person's free speech. In this case, only the owners and managers of the teams have the right to decide. And you and other fans have a right to express themselves. But it's totally inappropriate and dangerous to have our supreme leader dictate who has a right to free speech--and who does not.

        I'm old enough to remember when Muhammad Ali protested the Vietnam War. He suffered grave consequences--from the sports world. But LBJ said nothing. Even Nixon said nothing. Which is exactly what Trump should have said now.

        • Time out. Obama said the Cambridge police acted stupidly. He degraded the whole police force. So your wrong

          Besides Trump said "The Owners" and not himself in his Alabama speech.

  • Wow. Liberal protesting is good, while protesting against the protesters is terrible! Someone should call it what it is: spoiled megastars who want to show they care instead of actually doing something constructive. Want to change the world? Work towards keeping a family together, having the kids learn morality and graduate, work your way up in the workforce, learn how to respect yourself and others. My goodness, quit blaming everyone else because you feel so guilty for not being a contributing member in society.

    These kind of "on the job" protests of any kind would never be allowed within a conservative franchise, because conservatives teach that there are consequences to actions. The liberal policies teach that the government will take care of you because 'it isn't your fault' and 'the rich won't give you what you want'.

    Here is one more radical thought: Stop the 'black on black' crime, and see attitudes change overnight. Stop dressing and acting like a hoodlam and see how attitudes change. Stop acting like your 'priveledge' is the only one that matters. Quit the 'outrage' that someone like Trump is reacting to your actions of division.

  • Speaking of on-the-job behavior, the Michigan State Police Director has called the NFL players, "degenerates." That is wrong on so many levels. As head of the State Police, she's just confirming what the players are protesting. No consequences for her, by the way.

  • First Amendment - Religion and Expression. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Trump and his crowd need to review the protocol of using the US flag. The flag is a powerful symbol of Americanism. Desecration of the flag, while being considered publicly improper, remains protected as freedom of speech. Scholars have noted the irony that "[t]he flag is so revered because it represents the land of the free, and that freedom includes the ability to use or abuse that flag in protest".

    This gives every US citizen, including Colin Kaepernick, the absolute right to peacefully speak their thoughts. He simply said "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way”.

    Colin Kaepernick, is biracial, was adopted and raised by white parents and had white siblings.

    • He has as much right to protest during work as I do - none. He also has "the right" to protest against those that try to help the most (police and conservatives) and not the policies of democrats that has kept minorities down - but that doesn't make him right.

      • Kaepernick was not protesting against police, conservatives, or democrats. His protest was against the racial discrimination that is so prevalent in his, mine and your country.

        • He was protesting against police and conservative values which he says is the root of racial injustice. I disagree that racial discrimination is so prelavent, despite the best attempts by radicals trying to stir the pot.

          • Kaepernick was never accused of domestic violence. No weapons charges, no drug charges. No animal abuse issues. He was accused of being a” son of a bitch” by Donald Trump.
            Kaepernick blackballing by the NFL says a lot about the hypocrisy and fear that make NFL football a national pastime. Kaepernick dared to give voice to his own humanity. His greatest sin is that he refused to let us continue in white supremacy mode without being reprimanded.
            I don’t know your planet address but if you want to see racial injustice first hand just tour the US of A, particularly the southern states where it is very much alive and thriving. This part is Trump’s country.

            By the way, what are conservative values?

          • The hypocrisy and fear? The hypocracy of breaking NFL rules by K, and the fear of owners to enforce those rules? And before you ask, the NFL has rules of conduct on the field even before the start of the game. Want to know K's true belief? Donating $25K to a group promoting cop killers tells me a lot.

            I live on the West coast, where the racial disparity I see is how the hard workers pay the highest taxes to support and defend those who will not help themselves through legal means. I believe a better term would be Victim supremacy, as I must work in order for them to have the life I am working towards, because it is unfair to expect them to work for it themselves. There are great people and deadbeats in every culture, white included, but to say there is white supremacy today is just a marketing gimmick to make confiscation of hard earned money more palatable. I love a quote I read in another article that I will paraphrase: "don't blame racial profiling when you get pulled over by a cop doing 85 in a 55 mph zone". Regardless of color, if anyone decides to act disrespectfully, don't be surprised that people disrespect you right back.

          • The NFL Rule Book governs how the game is played, not what players do before or after the game. The NFL's rulebook says nothing about player conduct during the pre-game playing of the national anthem. The League recently publicly issued this statement “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the national anthem”.

            Kaepernick did not donate money to Assata Shakur. His donation went to help her daughters who were left homeless and motherless and were not responsible for their mother’s sins. That is called compassion. Kapernick also gave 100,000 dollars each month for ten months for charitable causes. What have you done charity wise?

            Please clarify your quote “white supremacy today is just a marketing gimmick to make confiscation of hard earned money more palatable”. Your last paragraph appears that you are in the grip of self pity so I’m not sure what response you are looking for.

          • The NFL rule book also does not cover illegal dog fighting or wife beating. You know as well as I do that I am not referring to the rule book. As for my donations and help, we can compare as a percentage donations if you want.