In no small part to President Trump expressing his displeasure, there has been significant backlash from NFL fans over some players not standing during the pregame signing of the National Anthem.
As such, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could no longer bury his head in the proverbial sand, so he issued a written statement on Tuesday.
"Like many of our fans," Goodell wrote, "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."
The NFL's current anthem policy states that players "should" stand for the anthem, but it stops short of requiring it.
The proposed new policy is the result of "many of discussions with clubs and players," Goodell added.
If a policy is drafted mandating that players stand during the Anthem, I don't believe such a directive is too outlandish. It's not like an individual player would be required to place his hand over his heart or sing along with the Anthem performer. But the idea is that the pregame ceremony is an infinitesimal percentage of time during the week where politics can (and should) be put aside. Since most NFL players have a substantial social media following, there's still a significantly large platform (as well as ample time) to convey advocacy and/or protest.
Commissioner Goodell's statement also comes on the heels of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones revealing his intentions to take disciplinary action against any member of his team who refuses to stand during the Anthem. Jones's own sentiments have created quite the firestorm of reaction, including one which led to the suspension of ESPN personality Jemele Hill. Not to be outdone, fellow ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon took his objections steps further.
“And the word that comes to my mind―and I don’t care who doesn’t like me using it―is plantation,” Mr. Wilbon said on Monday’s show. “The players are here to serve me, and they will do what I want. No matter how much I pay them, they are not equal to me. That’s what this says to me and mine.”
Leave out the fact that millionaire football players being equated with individuals who didn't possess a scintilla of freedom is at best asinine and at worst trivializes an otherwise ugly time in American history. This idea that bosses don't consider employees "equal to them" is hardly a revolutionary concept. Whether we like it or not, employees at most companies are there for little more than to make their bosses look good. Don't believe me? Make your employer look bad about twice and see what happens.
Say what ya want about Trump, but his rhetoric surrounding this issue seems to have given him an upper hand in this latest battle in the culture war.