As if the NFL’s widespread protest of the national anthem by its players couldn’t get any more dramatic, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has upped the ante by announcing that the league will consider punishing players who kneel during the national anthem.
In a letter written by Goodell and publicized by ESPN’s Adam Shefter, the commissioner wrote,
Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us. We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.
Goodell went on to say that the NFL will consider “a plan” at a meeting next week, which “would include such elements as an in-season platform to promote the work of our players on these core issues, and that will help to promote positive change in our country.”
When Colin Kaepernick first instigated the protest as a way of bringing attention to the problem of police brutality perpetrated against People of Color in the United States, its number of participants was relatively small. However, after a series of statements by Donald Trump condemning players who kneel during the national anthem, the protests grew exponentially, with players everywhere participating. Trump then urged fans to walk out of NFL games if players knelt during the anthem, orders which Mike Pence followed during Sunday’s Indianapolis Colts game.
If Goodell’s suggestion becomes a reality, an absolute shitstorm is sure to follow. The NFL’s players are passionate about the protests, believing that their massive platform can be used to spread their message to millions upon millions of people. This being the case, there is likely going to be a serious amount of backlash among players, many of whom already have a history of difficulties with the NFL commissioner.
Weighing in on Goodell’s remarks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Gerald McCoy said that an uproar is imminent if the potential punishments become a reality. When asked about the reactions of players, he said,
I don’t think guys are gonna like it, I think it’s gonna be an uproar if that is to happen because you’re basically taking away a constitutional right to freedom of speech. If guys wanna have a, I guess you would call it a peaceful protest, I don’t think it’s right to take that away.
As if Goodell’s statement didn’t hold enough weight, Trump decided to take to Twitter to show his support.
It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
After everything that has gone on during the past few weeks as a result of Trump’s initial tweets about the protest, one can only imagine how intense things will become now that Roger Goodell has decided to take action as well.
I, for one, am appalled by the situation. What Goodell is essentially saying is that domestic abusers, sexual assault perpetrators, and racists can play in the NFL, but peaceful protesters? Absolutely not.
This is absurd.