On the same day the NFL announced a $89 million commitment to social justice programs to combat inequality, team owners met for what’s being described as “a privileged session to speak about the most sensitive of topics,” to include players kneeling during the national anthem.
And in a clear sign owners understand the divisive issue hurt the league, and that President Donald Trump was right in taking a stance against players who disrespect the American flag — the president called on the NFL to “change policy” — the owners reportedly discussed the idea of imposing a 15-yard penalty for kneeling, according to Sports Illustrated.
The idea discussed, according to the sports magazine, was that home teams would decide if the teams are to come out for the playing of the national anthem, and if so, any players kneeling would draw a 15-yard penalty.
According to sources reported by ESPN, other options included:
- Allow each team to implement its own policy.
- Clear the field of all football personnel while the anthem is played.
- Instruct players who don’t want to stand to remain in the locker room while the anthem is played.
- Impose penalties on teams and players who do not stand, including a 15-yard penalty and/or fines.
- Add contract language that requires players to stand.
- Leave the current policy in place.
The league was rocked with controversy last season after former NFL player Colin Kaepernick began a trend in the 2016 season of kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality.
The protests took off in 2017 after then-Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett — now with Philadelphia — claimed that he was detained outside a Las Vegas casino for “simply being a black man.” The 6′ 4″ 274 lb. professional football player said officers used excessive force that was “unbearable,” and that one cop threatened to “blow my f**king head off.”
Video did not support his outrageous claims, and while the police union demanded an apology, the national media quickly swept the issue under the rug, as if it never happened.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) October 1, 2017
President Trump inflamed matters last year when he said at a rally that if a player took a knee, NFL owners should “get that son of a bitch off the field right now.”
The remark prompted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who’s been supportive of the players’ political views, to issue a statement denouncing Trump’s “divisive comments.”
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) September 23, 2017
Colin Kaepernick and his former San Franscico 49ers teammate Eric Reid, who was quick to join Kaepernick in kneeling, are suing the NFL, claiming teams colluded to prevent the two unsigned free agents from playing, Sports Illustrated reported.
On the other hand, team owners are not eager to pay players millions of dollars to come in and destroy their coveted fan base with radical left-wing political behavior.
The NFL and the Players Coalition, formed last year, finalized a partnership Monday that dedicates $89 million for social justice programs, the NFL Network reported.
The initiative comes in response to players kneeling during the national anthem, even as the bottom fell out on TV ratings — critics charge it’s a weak-kneed attempt by the NFL to placate players, in effect throwing money at them not to kneel, although there has been no agreement to that affect.