Roger Goodell Touches On Anthem Protests; League Won't Try To Stop Players
The NFL "won't try to stop players protesting during the national anthem" this season, according to Kent Somers of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday addressed the issue with about 200 Cardinals fans. After being "asked if the NFL could do anything about the protests," Goodell "used a bunch of sentences to basically say no." He said, "We have to understand there are people who have different viewpoints. The national anthem is a special moment for me. It’s a point of pride. We also have to understand the other side of it. People do have rights and we want to respect those" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/15). Goodell said that he had a "similar discussion" with a Jets player during another fan forum a couple weeks ago. Goodell said that the player was "asked about the ongoing silent protest." Goodell said the player said there was "a time and a place" to engage in protest. Goodell added that is "one of the key components for players to recognize." Goodell: "That's what we all have to, sort of, understand -- the responsibility of doing it at the right time and in the right way. Protest to progress is what I call it. We all have to recognize that people want to see change. Let's go out and try to make that happen in a peaceful and an important way" (ESPN.com, 8/14).
MESSAGE GOT LOST: ESPN.com's Nick Wagoner reported 49ers S Eric Reid, who knelt alongside Colin Kaepernick last year, "does not intend to resume kneeling during the national anthem this season." Reid said, "The anthem thing went so sideways -- it kills me that it went the way it went because that's not how we intended it to be. You guys know what we were trying to get accomplished with that." Throughout the '16 season, Reid said that he "hoped the protest would spark conversations that would lead to change at the highest levels of politics." After the season, Reid said that he "believed those conversations had started and that he intended to stand for the national anthem" in '17 (ESPN.com, 8/14). Reid "reiterated he wouldn’t kneel ... despite recent racial unrest in Charlottesville." He said, "It doesn’t change my plans. It’s important to discuss the issues that we have in our country. I think it’s becoming more and more apparent" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/15). Meanwhile, Browns coach Hue Jackson said that while he "understands the reasons behind NFL players protesting during the National Anthem," he "hopes it won't happen with his team." Jackson: "Everybody has a right to do, and I get it, but the National Anthem means a lot to myself personally, the organization and our football team. ... I would hope that we don't have those issues." Jackson said that he "prefers to address those issues internally" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/15).
MORE TO COME: Seahawks DE Michael Bennett and Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins have indicated that they plan to protest throughout the season, and in N.Y., Thomas Lipe notes more protests "may be following" after last weekend’s events in Charlottesville and President Trump's response (N.Y, POST, 8/15). ESPN's Amin Elhassan said he was "surprised there weren't more big guys sitting" after Charlottesville. While Bennett and Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch "are big names," Elhassan figured there would be "bigger-named guys sitting for this" ("SportsNation," ESPN, 8/14). NBCSPORTSBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto wrote there will be "more players willing to consider such a protest because ... numbers matter." It is "easy to isolate one person and try to ruin him or her, either through career damage or reputation damage." Bennett and Lynch could be "part of a vanguard of players who are speaking out against the clear injustices that undermine what the nation can and should be." Ratto: "The message may resonate" (NBCSPORTSBAYAREA.com, 8/14).
DOESN'T END WITH KAEPERNICK: USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell writes Bennett and Lynch "served notice that the league can hardly distance itself from the nation’s social turmoil by merely refusing to give" Kaepernick an opportunity. Kaepernick "may have been the one who raised the level of consciousness" about issues of "inequality, racism, social justice and police brutality last year." However, he "isn’t the only player with whom such issues hit home." Bell: "It’s hardly a surprise that Bennett -- he's an established, ninth-year veteran who has long been outspoken on matters or race and social issues -- would pick up the virtual baton left by Kaepernick" (USA TODAY, 8/15). In S.F., Ann Killion writes if the NFL was hoping the Kaepernick issue was "going away soon, it seems to have badly miscalculated" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/15).