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Volume 25 No. 177
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Casey's Comments Show On-Field Protests Unlikely To End

NFL's anthem policy was suspended on Thursday, though it is unknown how long it will remain inactive
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

There could be "at least a half-dozen players across the league" who join Titans DT Jurrell Casey in protesting on the field during the national anthem this season, according to two current NFLers cited by Mike Freeman of BLEACHER REPORT. It is unknown exactly how many will join Casey, who this week said he will continue to protest during the anthem and accept any fines, but he "represents a resistance some players have" to the edict the NFL agreed to in May that players stop protesting on the sideline. That policy was temporarily suspended on Thursday, though it is unknown how long it will remain inactive. Freeman notes it "can't be emphasized enough how big a deal" Casey taking such a public stance is. He is a star who has "tremendous clout throughout the NFL." If he and other players continue protesting, it "illustrates that the wave started by Colin Kaepernick in kneeling for the national anthem is no mere look-at-us moment, but a new sports civil-rights movement." It also shows that the players "won't back down no matter who puts pressure on them." It also shows the NFL's ban on protesting during the anthem "continues to backfire," and the fight between the NFL and President Trump "is guaranteed to continue." Trump has "turned the NFL into a political prop, and he will probably keep doing that through the mid-term elections." With that as a backdrop, the "rhetoric from the White House is likely to become even nastier than it has been" (BLEACHERREPORT.com, 7/20).

REAL MEANING: ESPN's Bomani Jones said if Casey's "intention behind this and the reason for doing it is to rebel against the fact they put this rule in in the first place, then I can kind of understand where it is that you're coming from." He added, "But if it's defiance for the sake of defiance, then it's really not worth it and it's fair to ask at this point if those demonstrations during the national anthem are having the intended effect. Is it advancing the discussion in a positive way?" ("High Noon," ESPN, 7/19).

SOME MISCOMMUNICATION: Titans President & CEO Steve Underwood said that the team's top brass "wants to speak" to Casey following his comments earlier this wee. Underwood suggested that Casey "might not understand the league's new rules on protests during the national anthem." Underwood: "There may be some misunderstanding on his part. Because the new league new policy does not provide anywhere that fines are made against players. If a player doesn't stand, the teams can be fined, but not the players." Underwood said that the Titans are "not disappointed with Casey." Casey is the "first NFL player to suggest he would defy new NFL rules that have sought to end protests during the anthem" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 7/20).

VESTED INTEREST: Packers shareholder Steven Tiefenthaler's petitioned the team to be "allowed three minutes during the shareholders meeting" this coming Wednesday to talk about players protesting during the anthem. Tiefenthaler said, "I just want to explain to the Packers what the flag means to me and how deeply the protests hurt the veterans I've spoken to." The Packers said that Tiefenthaler's subject matter "doesn't fit the format of a business meeting" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 7/20).