The National Football League (NFL) has chosen to cave to President Donald Trump instead of backing the rights of their players to protest during the national anthem in a decision that has caused an uproar.
Last year, Trump trashed NFL owners for letting NFL players protest police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem, referring to the players who kneel as “sons of bitches.”
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump said.
On Wednesday, all 32 NFL owners agreed with Trump that players who exercise their right to protest are “sons of bitches” and have barred them from being on the field if they want to protest during the anthem.
As per the new policy, players who do not want to stand during the anthem must remain in the locker room. Teams and players face fines for failing to do so.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tried to sell the new policy as some sort of compromise even though the NFL Players Association was not consulted prior to the policy change.
“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” Goodell told ESPN. “We want people to stand — that’s all personnel — and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something we think we owe. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players choices.”
“It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic,” Goodell added in an official statement on Twitter. “This is not and was never the case.”
But by relegating players to the locker room, the NFL is silencing free speech and quashing protests even though the protests were never about the national anthem, the flag, or love of country. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick even began kneeling after being advised to do so by Army Special Forces veteran Nate Boyer as an acceptable alternative to sitting.
The whole point of protesting during the anthem was to bring as much attention to the plague of police brutality against African-Americans as possible. Now, the league is forcing players to stand while ignoring the plight of many American citizens of color who suffer unequal treatment by police, including one of their own.
In December, cops beat former NFL player Desmond Marrow into unconsciousness just for having a cell phone, which police mistook for a gun. Marrow didn’t resist, nor did he try to fight back, but he was still ruthlessly assaulted by thugs with badges.
By barring the protests, owners are turning their backs on the players that make them rich.
The American Civil Liberties Union responded with disgust.
The NFL players’ protests have never been about the military or the flag. They’re about police brutality and white supremacy. Failing to protest injustice in America is not patriotic, it’s dangerous. #TakeAKnee
— ACLU (@ACLU) May 23, 2018
Needless to say, fans are outraged by the decision and are voicing their intention to boycott the NFL. That includes this writer. As a fan of the New England Patriots, I am appalled by the NFL’s decision to violate the constitutional rights of their players. Just as many players had the right to stand as others knelt last year, every player should have the right to do the same this year instead of bowing down to the demands of an authoritarian in the White House who dodged the draft five times and lets his staffers insult a hero like Senator John McCain. I will no longer support the NFL or the New England Patriots as long as this policy remains in effect.
And frankly, NFL players should go on strike to protest against it until the NFL does the right thing.
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