NFL Considering New Rule To Keep Players In The Locker Rooms During The National Anthem

AmericanFlag300px-National_Football_League_logo.svgMany fans are debating today whether to watch football in a long-standing American tradition (including in my house) on Thanksgiving or join the growing boycott of the National Football League over the continued national anthem protests.  Viewership and stadium attendance continues to drop around the country.  Recently we discussed how the NAACP proposed simply dropping the national anthem as a way to resolve the controversy — a position that some of us strongly objected to.  Now the NFL is proposing an equally bizarre solution: if you cannot get rid of the anthem, get rid of the players.  The NFL is working on a proposal to keep players in the locker room for the national anthem. No players, no protest.  It is an idea that President Donald Trump rejected for good reason.


Roger Goodell and the NFL owners have repeatedly shown that they have no principled position on either side of the debate.  The owners have given every indication that they could care less about the anthem, the protests, or anything other than the bottom line.  That is no change in their standard approach to all things football.  While they love to parade veterans before games, they are only concerned that the protests are costing them money.  Neither the principles involved on either side or the fans calculate prominently in their decisionmaking.

The controversy over the anthem is occurring at the same time of the squabble over Goodell’s contract.  Goodell is not simply viewed as the most anti-fan commissioner in the history of the league but he is without question the most unpopular commissioner.  However, the owners want to renew his contract (he is demanding $50 million a year plus the lifetime use of a private plane from the NFL).  A recent poll shows that 60 percent of fans object to Goodell’s handling of the controversy.  

The reason is that the owners could truly care less about how the fans are treated or how they view Goodell.  Goodell is a useful shill for the owners. They want to pursue policies to bilk fans, but they are able to direct the growing fan outrage at Goodell.  The problem is that fans are beginning to seriously question their interest in the game when balanced against their growing hatred for the NFL.  Roughly 30 percent of fans now say that they are watching less football due to the anthem protest.  That is almost one out of three fans who have been alienated by the handling of the controversy.

In light of this history,  it is little surprise that the owner would prefer to simply keep the players in their locker rooms to avoid the issue — and making any decision on principle.

 The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the owners may refer to a prior policy in just keeping the players inside.  Many fans, including myself, value fans and players alike standing in respect of the flag and the anthem.  I have previously said that I do not agree with the protests during the anthem. It has nothing to do with the merits of the underlying concerns over criminal justice in America. Rather, I view the anthem as the demonstration of our collective commitment to the Constitution and the values that it represents. We have not always lived up to those values but the anthem is to reaffirm both those values and honor all citizens (veteran and non-veterans alike) who have fought to make them a reality.

It is a bit late to expect the NFL owners (who truly include some of the most repellant individuals alive) to stand on principle, but at least show a modicum of guts.  Either stand with the players or the anthem, but do not try to avoid any decision by hiding the players or canceling the anthem.  It is also unfair to most players. Most players and the vast majority of fans want to observe the national anthem at the start of games (like so many other sports).  Some 77 percent of fans believe that players should stand for the anthem or not play.

Fortunately, we will be holding our own football game today with the Turley Turkey Bowl, which has now been running for roughly 50 years.  We will be joining by a large number of our friends and neighbors.  While the game may not have as many all-star performances, the management and the players and the fans will be celebrating the day (and what it represents) together.

54 thoughts on “NFL Considering New Rule To Keep Players In The Locker Rooms During The National Anthem”

  1. Most black NFL players grew up in a different country than I did, though we both call her America.

    Thank GOD they have been willing to use their fame and their positions as respected and admired athletes to draw attention to those left behind, to those blacks who still face the hatred and mistreatment well established over hundreds of years in this land of the free and home of the brave. And, they didn’t ask for anything for their own gain and they were peaceful and perfectly quiet.

    It can’t happen here in this land of prosperity with promises of opportunity to all, or so it seems, but wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air if the white, affluent majority would try to grasp what these men are actually trying to communicate to America? and not snub them instantly?

    For once, in our long, ugly history of oppression of blacks, they have been honored with a measure of status they never knew before and immediately whitey condemns them. Must we, really? Are we enslaved to hatred, forever? The chains that bind our hearts we will soon discover are eternally far more insidious and destructive than the ones that bound them.

  2. I believe that issue that the players and the reason they are doing this is a constitutional right to express how are government is handling the violence against people in a free society. I do not think they mean to show disrespect to the national anthem. ok Trump does have a right to voice his thoughts as a private citizen, As the President of the united states He should take a good look at the constitution and the bill of rights before he makes any statement at all!!! And it’s we the people not we the government. As people of a free society the government works for a better way of life for us. and Trump made the negative statement that the player’s should be fired for there actions. So instead of resolving the violence He created more violence and is redirecting the real issue to make it look like the players are wrong by there freedom of expression. In my opinion it just proves that the bill of rights are sometimes ignored by our government and they should be held accountable for that. They sure do know how to use the constitution to defend there actions!! I clam this statement under my right of freedom of speech.

    1. Look the real issue as far as I’m concerned is a bill of rights issue and the fact that national foot ball players are defending their constitutional right to try and make a change with the way people are abused in this country. There is a long standing in the history of our government to cause invidious decimation towards a group of people such as Indians, poor people and blacks.
      Now they want to keep the players in the locker room while the national anthem is being played, so they want to suppress their constitutional rights. The constitution and the bill of rights is the only defense we the people must keep our government in check.
      Come on people wake up and look at the real issue, do not allow yourself to be misled by invidious statements!
      What is this going teach the children of the United States about just what National Anthem stands for, Freedom and Justice for all or just the ones chosen by most of society. Kids are just that, let’s not teach them insidious or invidious discrimination before they become old enough to understand.

    1. David B. Benson,…
      – After the last 5 or so UW-WSU Apple Cup games, I can understand why you feel that way about football.

  3. So back to how it always used to be before the military bought off the NFL with patriotism. Anthems have no part in a game anyway, but if you are going to have them, do it without the players on the field. BTW it would be great if we could give god a break and not keep asking her to help our team over their team.

  4. Turley said the NFL owners should, “[e]ither stand with the players or the anthem, but do not try to avoid any decision by hiding the players or canceling the anthem.”

    One wonders what legal remedy might compel NFL owners to make a decision. Some sort of contract, presumably. Is there a tort, there? Can the “77 percent of fans [who] believe that players should stand for the anthem or not play,” file a class-action suit to force the NFL owners to make a decision that the players must stand for the anthem as a condition of their continued employment?

    I’m not a lawyer. But Turley is; and his unstated remedy looks to me like tortious interference with a contract. Why don’t all of you foobaw fans just organize a boycott of foobaw, already? Are you waiting for The Superbowl? Fine then. Boycott The Superbowl.

            1. Diane – Canadian football has a wider field, 12 men per side. Slightly different rules.

  5. This is one reason why God made rifles. Allow the fans to bring in long range rifles. When the players kneel then shoot them. Nuff said.

  6. Wholly, great observation on how money flows from fans to the players. I don’t care what business model you use, don’t piss off your customers.

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