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Volume 25 No. 110
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Steelers' Burns Contends New Anthem Policy Singles Out Players

Burns said the new anthem policy could "humiliate" players who decide to stay in the locker room
Photo: getty images

Steelers CB Artie Burns said that the new NFL national anthem policy "not only singles out individual players but pits members of the same organization against each other," according to Lauren Kirschman of Burns said, "It makes you look bad. You got your whole team out there. You come jogging out and it's, 'Oh, he's the guy who left the field.' Who wants to go through that, man? That's humiliating us as a person. We're trying to stand for something and you're going to single us out in front of everybody. You talk about bullying, man. That's bullying. That's my opinion." He added, "I feel that's just a topic to get everybody against each other. I hate that we have to go down this route but it is what it is" (, 5/24).

ALL ABOUT MONEY? In West Palm Beach, Hal Habib wrote the anthem controversy "always has been and always will be about the multibillion dollar industry that is the NFL, which is why the league wants everyone who is on the field to stand at attention during the anthem and anyone who wants to protest social injustice to be nowhere in sight" (, 5/24). In Richmond, Paul Woody writes NFL players under the new policy have been "placed in their pregame boxes -- out of sight, out of mind" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 5/25). In Massachusetts, Kevin Duffy wrote by "hiding its players in the locker room, the NFL simply wants to quell any conversation that could be viewed as controversial." Duffy: "It's purely corporate. It's not about patriotism" (, 5/24). 

RACE ISSUES: In DC, Karen Attiah writes forcing players to go inside the locker room or face fines is a "blatant attack on the free speech of black players (who make up almost 70 percent of the league)." But the NFL has "shown that it is more interested in silencing the speech of black players than in 'advancing the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of society,' as its new policy claims." The league's new policy is "way more disrespectful to what the flag and anthem represent than a player kneeling ever could be" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/25). In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan writes the NFL with its new policy took a stance that will "appease the White House and a segment of fans, at the expense of empathy for black players protesting the killing of unarmed black men by police officers." The league's "attempt to dictate the behavior of its black players is typical of our country's treatment of minorities" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/25).

SHOULD EVERYONE STAY IN LOCKER ROOM? In Houston, Dale Robertson writes the only "remotely satisfactory compromise element" of the new policy was that it "gave players determined to protest social injustice the option to stay behind in the locker room rather than incur fines for their teams." If everybody "stays put, ensuring everyone's privacy and sparing fans and sanctimonious, vote-chasing politicians the need to cast judgement on the players' individual 'political' views, the problem is solved" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/25).