The NFL, thanks to commissioner Roger Goodell may very well be in process of committing suicide with the controversy over the National Anthem. What started as one player has now grown to many players across several teams taking a knee during the playing of our National Anthem.
Roger Goodell apparently doesn’t understand his customer base at all. People do not turn on their TV sets to watch political demonstrations at football games, especially during the National Anthem (they also don’t turn it on to see Pop Stars perform anti-cop songs either). Goodell sat down with Matt Lauer to discuss the issue and had this to say:
“Listen, I support our players speaking out on issues that they think need to be changed in our society. We don’t live in a perfect society, Matt. Our players have strong views about things. So I support our players speaking out against that. But that’s what the focus should be on, the changes he wants to see in our society.”
But apparently that is only true if you’re “speaking out” mirrors Colin Kaepernick’s point of view. Tennessee Titans linebacker Avery Williamson had planned to wear shoes with special cleats that honored first responders and those who died on 911. You know, expressing his “views about things”. How did the league react to that?
The special red, white and blue cleats include stars, an American flag-inspired Nike logo and the words “Never Forget” printed on the heel, according to photographs posted on Williamson’s verified Twitter account. But that would violate NFL rules, which stipulate each player’s shoes must be either black or white, with team colors serving as allowable dominant or secondary colors on the shoes. The NFL rule book says unapproved shoes are allowable only if “the player tapes over the entire shoe to conform to his team’s selected dominant base color.” Fearing a fine from the league, and leery of becoming a distraction, Williamson said he decided to auction the cleats for charity.
Protest the National Anthem: OK.
Honor the deceased and first responders: NOT OK.
The Dallas Cowboys had planned to honor the fallen Dallas police officers with a special emblem on their uniforms but that was prohibited too.
Beyond the obvious hypocritical nature of the league office, another question needs to be asked. Where are the coaches and owners on this? Football is a team sport. The player’s lives are strictly regimented – when to practice, when to eat, when to review film etc. Yet they can sit down during the National Anthem? They aren’t representing themselves, they are representing the TEAM. If I were coaching a team and one of my players sat down, they wouldn’t be playing that day no matter who they were. Try going into the office someday and start skipping meetings and see how long you remain employed.
As an NFL fan since my youth, I am angered and disappointed at what is happening to the once great sport of professional football. It has slowly turned into a political/social vehicle instead of entertainment. If Roger Goodell continues to go down this road, I think he will find that the enormous popularity his product has had will dwindle. At some point the American Football Fan will say “ENOUGH!”