NFL Players Face Difficult Dilemma As Many Factors Make Protesting A Tricky Proposition
There likely is a "visceral urge" for NFL players to protest in response to President Trump's comments over the last few weeks, but the "decision to engage or not for many players is not automatic," according to Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY. Some lesser-known players "probably resist protesting because they lack job security and are at the low end of the salary scale." At the other end of the spectrum, some are "undoubtedly eyeing post-playing careers while considering political ramifications." It is a "matter of dignity for many in a league where more than 70% of the players are African-Americans." In determining whether to express themselves, there is "undoubtedly a sense that they are also representing family and friends." NFL players have been "placed in a difficult dilemma." It is "not like African-American accountants, lawyers or police officers were suddenly cast with the decision to kneel, while their white co-workers and management figures contemplate their level of support." Redskins TE Vernon Davis said, "We're grown men. You decide what you're going to do. If you want to stand or kneel, you make your own decision" (USA TODAY, 10/13). Titans WR Rishard Matthews in response to a question posed on Twitter said that he would "step away from football if the NFL implements a new rule requiring players to stand for the national anthem." In Nashville, Jaime Cardenas notes after he tweeted his response, Matthews, who "again stayed in the tunnel for the singing of the national anthem" during last week's game against the Dolphins, "deleted his tweet." Matthews was asked on Twitter, "If NFL makes new rule on anthem ... will you stay in locker room and face the fine/penalty?" Matthews responded, "No I will be done playing football" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 10/13).
GARRETT OFFERS THOUGHTS: In Dallas, David Moore notes Cowboys coach Jason Garrett "declined to offer specifics" on what Owner Jerry Jones told players in a Wednesday meeting to discuss his stance on the national anthem. Garrett "characterized the discussion as productive and revealed that Jones shared ways the players can make an impact on the issues that matter to them." Garrett: "He just felt like it was important for him to come in at the end of one of our team meetings and share his position on the anthem with our team very directly." He added, "He also wanted to share different ways to make an impact on some of the issues that the players have concerns about. So it was a productive meeting. I know there were some conversations he had individually with the players afterwards that were also productive" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/13). Garrett said that the Cowboys will "continue to stand for the anthem just like they always have and he doesn't think" DE Damontre Moore or DT David Irving will "raise their fist at the end of the anthem" as they did before last week's game against the Packers. Garrett: "I had a conversation with both Damontre and David the other day after the ballgame and we had a good discussion. ... Everybody understands the position that our owner has taken" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/13). In Dallas, Kevin Sherrington wrote, "I don't think anyone is going to kneel. Not after Jerry stuck his neck out" (DALLASNEWS.com, 10/12).
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS: In Pittsburgh, Joe Starkey writes under the header, "Roger Goodell Is Donald Trump's Puppet." The NFL should make a rule "requiring every team to remain in the locker room during the anthem, reasoning that the event has become too politically charged and that their players are being used for political means." Instead, the league "seems intent on doing the exact opposite." Starkey: "I believe that is called forced patriotism." Goodell has "capitulated to Trump." Or maybe to Jones, who "capitulated to Trump." It is "difficult to tell who is pulling the strings on the puppet that is Goodell" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 10/13). In DC, Thom Loverro wrote the NFL could "solve this whole national anthem controversy pretty easily." They could "simply get their players out of the patriotism business." According to a '15 Senate oversight report, the Defense Department spent more than $10M on "marketing and advertising with pro sports teams -- particularly NFL teams." However, it has "become clear now that the juice isn't worth the squeezing anymore." Whatever the reason were for the NFL and the Defense Department to get into the patriotism business together, those reasons have been "drowned by the debate over players kneeling in protest during the playing of the national anthem before the start of NFL games" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/12).