In a press conference on Wednesday (May 23), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell unveiled the NFL ’s new rule about standing during the national anthem at games. A rule and policy that was not passed by or mentioned to the NFL Player’s Union who are expected to challenge the policy. According to Goodell, the rule applies to the entirety of the team, all personnel, so even if one member kneels, the team itself is fined. Goodell added that all 32 clubs want to make sure that this “important moment to leagues, club, and country” is “done in a respectful fashion.“
This was a sad day in American football. Sports has been the only place where Americans regardless of partisanship could come together with friendly rivalries and no one cared if you were a Republican or Democrat.
And, now the gridiron has been tainted.
In 2016, Colin Kaepernick, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, took a knee as a way to bring conscious awareness to the greater public about people of color being senselessly killed by police. It is an epidemic that many do not want to admit and some choose to ignore. Instead of supporting his peaceful expression of his First Amendment rights he was attacked, he was called unpatriotic and later had no job. Some fellow players joined the protest and kneeled throughout the season and the next. This drew much backlash from critics and the biggest critic of them all, , publicly suggested that the “sons of b*tches” should be “fired.” It must also be noted that an overwhelming majority of the kneelers were Black.
Since then, the players and owners have met and agreed upon the league putting over $90 million back into the communities where many of their players come from, reported ESPN, CNN, and other media outlets.
This was the NFL’s commitment to social reform–or so it seemed.
Goodell‘s language on Wednesday sounded very familiar, and we all know, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it must be Donald! This crazy new rule has Trump written all over it. Logic would dictate that if a player kneels each time before a game and much money is lost, then it is plausible that his employment would be at risk. But the most disheartening aspect about all of this is the insensitivity and lack of understanding that Trump and others have regarding the meaning of the Kaepernick kneeling-protest. In essence, the truth has all but been cast aside; and shards of racial and social injustice lay at the feet of the owners and those who buy into the lie that kneeling during the anthem was to disrespect America.
Since Trump could not bully and control , has the NFL become his new toy? The new rule and the events that have led up to this decision points to Trumpism. It is as though Trump has some kind of weird power over the NFL owners, just like he has over his former lawyer and the GOP lawmakers.
They have bent to Trump’s will.
New York Jets co-owner and chairman Christopher Johnson spoke out via Twitter, saying they would not adhere to the new rule in the manner in which it was written and they would seek to challenge it. Johnson also said he would stand with his team and players and would pay any fines if any of his players decided to kneel, reported the Daily Beast. He gets it. One can only hope that other owners will challenge the policy and see the new rule for what it truly is; a policy that hushes free speech and incites divisiveness–and all of this, just as America gears up and counts down for pre-season.