Sources: Some Owners Interested In Anthem Agreement With NFLPA
Some moderate NFL owners are "interested in a potential agreement" with the NFLPA over the anthem controversy in which owners "would waive discipline for a player protesting ... if [the] union endorses players standing for the anthem," according to sources cited by Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. It is not clear whether a compromise will be reached "in the coming days or weeks" on a new policy, and few people inside the league "seem to believe there is a realistic chance of an agreement being struck before" tonight's Falcons-Eagles season opener. Any endorsement by the NFLPA of players standing for the anthem "would amount to a non-binding pledge, if the owners indeed agree to waive any discipline of a player who protests." It appears that "moderate owners nonetheless would consider that a significant development which would put the league and the union on the same side of the issue." It is "not known whether the union will agree to such a compromise" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/6). NBC's Mike Tirico does not expect an influx of players protesting during the anthem this season. He said, "We may see some here or there. Presidential tweets might put a different magnifying glass on what happens on the field. The reality is, there's been a pretty healthy conversation between the players and the league. The players' messaging about social injustice has gotten out, the league has put money where the conversation has been regarding social justice programs. ... There has been some good work done here" ("Today," NBC, 9/6).
SURVEY SAYS...: NBC's Chuck Todd reported a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 43% of voters believe kneeling during the anthem is an appropriate form of protest, while 53% believe it is inappropriate. Of those polled, 72% of Democrats "say kneeling is appropriate versus 23% who say it isn't." For Republicans, the numbers are "basically reversed" -- 10% believe "kneeling is appropriate, while 88% voted it is inappropriate." Additionally, 70% of African Americans polled believe "kneeling is appropriate and 58% of white voters say it's not appropriate" ("Meet The Press," NBC, 9/2). Meanwhile, in DC, Richardson & Muñoz note polls "continue to show that most voters disagree with the refusal to stand for the national anthem." A Pop Polling survey of 894 registered voters released yesterday found that 57% "agreed the refusal to stand for the anthem is unpatriotic," while 43% "disagreed" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/6). In Austin, Kirk Bohls writes the "furor" surrounding the issue likely "will be minimized" this season with networks not showing the anthem, but it "won't completely die down, especially with our ubiquitous POTUS fueling the fire" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 9/6).
GETTING POLITICAL: BUZZFEED's Parti & Gomez reported Republican strategists and campaign staff believe that they "see opportunities for candidates to make the NFL protests a political liability for Democrats defending seats" in states President Trump won in the '16 election. Trump has "continued his criticism of football players in tweets and at rallies -- keeping the issue in the national spotlight and giving Republican candidates a chance to force red-state Democrats to make a tough choice: alienate some of the Trump voters they are chasing, or risk angering the liberal base energizing and financing their campaigns." The issue already has played a role in some primaries -- Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Diane Black and Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn "both produced pro-anthem ads to coincide with the Super Bowl." Meanwhile, Trump-supported Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp closed his primary race with an ad "emphasizing that 'I stand for our national anthem.'" The protests "haven't yet surfaced in many general election ads ... but candidates are talking about the protests in ways that fit in with their campaign messaging" (BUZZFEEDNEWS.com, 9/5).