Despite a dramatic loss of public support, massive attendance drops and a severe ratings crash, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) forced the league to hold off enforcing its new national anthem policy.
“In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy,” the league and NFLPA said in a joint statement. “No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.”
Just two months ago, the league announced that players would be fined if they did not stand during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in hopes of rebuilding the league’s image after two seasons of protests. Players could alternatively stay in the locker room during the pre-game ritual. Apparently, neither honoring the country nor hiding in the locker room were attractive to NFL athletes who have disgraced the league and disgusted fans by sitting or kneeling during the anthem.
Owners have taken action on their own – some in support of anti-American players and others prohibiting the childish displays.
The Miami Dolphins issued a team policy classifying anthem protests under a large list of “conduct detrimental to the club,” all of which could lead to a paid or unpaid suspension, a fine or both.
New York Jets acting owner Christopher Johnson said that he will not punish his players for any anthem protests and that he would pay any potential fines incurred by the team as a result of his players’ actions.
The protests are largely seen by fans as unpatriotic and disrespectful to veterans and the nation. Some players claim that their actions are being misconstrued and that they are pushing for social justice with their antics.
The protests have neither caused social change – which no one is quite sure how to define – nor has it raised any additional awareness of any of the issues players claim to be protesting. Whether it’s black incarceration, poverty, policing of black neighborhoods, support for Palestine or whatever – the anthem protests have accomplished nothing other than the tarnishment of the NFL brand.
This push by the NFLPA to force owners to allow players to disrespect the flag and anthem will likely lead to a third season of disgusted fans deciding to not show up or tune in.