It would be nice to have an adult in the White House. Until then, it might help to stop letting ourselves get so triggered by the “Troll in Chief.” His comments were ham-fisted, divisive, crude, and un-worthy of the office.
This is nothing new for him. And yet, while Trump is a lot of things, he knows when an opportunity to serve his goals presents itself.
Trump saw an easy chance to score a walk-in touchdown with his base, and spike it in Roger Goodell’s face. So, of course, he did. Now he’ll get back to a long list of his own problems – North Korea, the wall, DACA, tax reform, Russia-gate, heel-dragging congressional Republicans, and on and on.. – and leave Roger holding the bag of shit.
Trump will wander along to a new rhetorical punching bag in a week, and cable news will gobble up this new Trumpian outrage. Meanwhile, what’s the NFL’s next move? The same owners who have amazingly not conspired at all to keep Kaep un-employed (eye roll) were almost universally compelled to write love-letters to their protesting players. This will not sit well with many of their season ticket holders, who might have already been looking for an exit cue.
This Kaepernick Bomb has been a slow fuse burning… one that I’m sure the $43 Million Man had hoped would quietly go away. Now, the anthem ceremony has been certified as THE PLACE to protest – and nobody dare say you can’t!
It’s too late for Goodell to try to impose an NBA-style written edict on anthem etiquette. The NBA’s was agreed to in their CBA with the players, and David Stern was quick to bring down the hammer on Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf many years ago. Besides, if he tried, Goodell would be siding with Trump. So that’s a no-go.
Goodell could continue doing nothing – his “go-to” move – and hope that eventually these protests will simmer down again, and anthem normalcy returns. Good luck with that. The NFL’s commentary class just LOVES these mini-protests. I saw many tweets from sportswriters who gushed about how “nuts” and “amazing” Sunday was going to be! The commentary class will talk about, photograph, and discuss these courageous acts of civil disobedience until the end of time. Today it’s police brutality. Tomorrow, discriminatory lending. After that, gun laws. And on, and on.
The end game, I’m afraid, will be for the anthem to be moved to when players are in the lockeroom anyway. This is apparently how it was up until 2009, when the Department of Defense decided to throw some money at the NFL for some patriotism porn, with NFL stars serving as the unpaid spokesmen.
The exact “did they, or didn’t they” pre-2009 is somewhat murky. This piece claims it all started in 2009. But at the end, you’ll see, the story notes that well…. some teams and players actually did stand. So who knows?
Either way, I can say emphatically I like the anthem before games, because I love this country. It gives me 2 minutes to reflect upon how lucky I am to live in such a diverse, pluralistic, forward thinking, big brawny, beer-and-wings lovin’, do-your-thing and let’s make some money country. I also reflect upon the immense blood and treasure that has been spent in order to keep it that way. It’s the best nation of free men (and women) on earth. Nothing else comes close. Even with all the stuff that’s fucked up about it. (Debate amongst yourselves, please).
I have always felt Kaepernick’s protest was inappropriate. Not necessarily disrespectful, just inappropriate. Wrong place, wrong time. The NFL’s stage, was not his stage to hi-jack. Others strongly disagree. But you’ll never change my mind. Beyond that, Kaepernick’s kneeling – or anyone else’s – didn’t BOTHER me. And I never once thought about boycotting the NFL because of it. I don’t get bothered by NFL players taking stances because I don’t take them seriously.
I mean, these are guys who forget to stop running 1 yard from the endzone, and crawl around like dogs after touchdowns pretending to go pee-pee.
It was ironic that Sunday was described as a “show of unity” when teams did literally a half-dozen different things as a form of silent “protest.” Some standing, others kneeling, many locking arms. Some teams stayed inside entirely. The Steelers almost did, but then watched Army veteran Alejandro Villaneuva stand at attention from inside the tunnell.
If you want to do something powerful and unified, here’s a crazy idea: line up at attention with your hand on your heart. I know, sounds weird, but it might just work.
Ultimately, this is a branding problem for the NFL, at precisely the wrong time. They are already under pressure with the concussion issue, shockingly empty stadiums continues to be a weekly discussion point. And now the NFL is becoming known as “the protest league.”
Not a good look, and not good for business. It’s a burden no other pro sports league has to carry right now. And I blame Goodell for not seeing this coming, and getting his arms around it, a long time ago.