The National Football League found themselves embroiled in controversy just last year when anthem kneeling became a staple of almost every game. They lost many viewers as well as players as a result of the controversy. To this day the issue is still discussed within the National Football League as well as in the media. The president spoke it even more recently. While the National Football League has made it clear they do not intend on banning the anthem kneeling, they are however undertaking other bans that are very suspect in comparison. Bans that are infuriating people. See what they are.
Conservative Tribute reported,
“During the height of the national anthem protest controversy last autumn, statements like this one from Suzanne Nossel in The Washington Post were very much en vogue: “The threat to free-speech rights from the White House is unmistakable. If NFL owners do as the president asks, no matter what justification they give, the bedrock principle that the government cannot abridge the free-speech rights of individuals will have been breached.” Apparently, NFL players have an unalienable right to absolute freedom of speech in the workplace. It seems that no player can face reproach for offending the fans — the ones who pay their salaries, in case we’d all forgotten — lest we violate the Eleventy-Sixth Amendment: “The right of a well-remunerated group of athletes to kneel during the national anthem in protest of some formless goal, being necessary for something that Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith can pontificate about for nigh on 15 minutes every Monday morning, shall not be abridged.”
But that freedom of speech only applies to kneeling for the national anthem. Players who take a stand on the field on any other controversial (or not so controversial) topic are on their own. No cause célèbre. No op-eds in their defense. No implications that those who oppose what they’re doing are secretly bigots. Nothing. If you don’t believe me, believe Robert Jackson of Melbourne, Florida. He’s the writer behind a letter to the editor that’s going viral on social media as another NFL season approaches:
Now, let’s go through this point-by-point: “In 2012 the NFL had an issue with Tim Tebow kneeling for each game to pray; they also had an issue with Tebow wearing the phrase John 3:16 as part of his blackout to avoid glare, and made him take it off.” This is only half true; the NFL has never had a problem with Tebow (or anyone else) kneeling in prayer before a game. The rest of it is actually factual, however.
As you’ll see a few times during this list, the NFL rather jealously guards against the slightest deviation from its uniform policy, even when the policy involves free speech. This is a long-standing NFL rule — one where the enforcement didn’t generate much controversy, in spite of the fact that it involved Mr. Tebow expressing his religious beliefs. Even without the rule, it’s worth noting that the NFL and the media always seemed to view Tebow’s expression of his religious beliefs with a warier eye than they have with anthem protesters, something that will be important to remember for later. “In 2013 the NFL fined Brandon Marshall for wearing green cleats to raise awareness for people with mental health disorders.” Again, true. Marshall, then a wide receiver with the Bears, has been very public about his battle with a personality disorder and wanted to do something to draw attention to Mental Health Awareness Week. This should have been the most uncontroversial thing in the world, but enforcing corporate conformity to the uniform code is apparently more important than doing the same thing for the national anthem. At least we can take solace in the fact that the $10,500 fine Marshall received made his cause that much more visible, but this is still an example of the NFL not really caring about “free speech.”
“In 2015 Robert Griffin III (RG3) entered a post-game press conference wearing a shirt that said “Know Jesus Know Peace” but was forced to turn it inside out by an NFL uniform inspector before speaking at the podium.” Again, true. This was because (it was said) the shirt wasn’t a Nike product. The antipathy toward free expression of religion is one particularly appalling strain in the NFL’s policies, but it’s a private organization and that’s its right. If this were enforced across the board it would be fine, but apparently, people’s religious beliefs aren’t as sacrosanct as the ability to disrespect the anthem, the flag and those who have sacrificed for what both represent. DeAngelo Williams fined in 2015: Again, true. Bringing attention to the fight against grave illness is another thing less important than the right to disrespect the anthem. Nice work. William Gay fined for bringing attention to domestic violence? I know this will shock you, but this is again true. On the other hand, the NFL already does a really good job at bringing attention to domestic violence.”
While the National Football League has ardently made regulations and bans regarding certain issues they have allowed anthem kneeling to continue to go untouched. Something that would indicate tacit approval, since they have not said anything about it. Football, much like baseball, has been an American cultural hallmark that has brought people from every walk of life together. However, these anthem kneeling controversies are destroying that cultural coming together. Instead, it has caused massive divisions and even led to people not watching anymore. If the National Football League were interested in preserving this cultural coming together they would speak out against anthem kneeling and made a press release statement that vociferously makes their intentions clear. Yet time and time again they have failed to do that which means they have failed to do their job.
Share if you think that anthem kneeling should be banned.
Share if you believe not banning it is wrong.
Share if you agree that it should never have been permitted to begin with.