by Cassy Fiano | October 13, 2017 8:09 pm
The NFL has a problem on their hands. Last season, then-quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick, refused to stand for the National Anthem and remained seated. After a few weeks, he then transitioned into kneeling in protest instead. Other players quickly followed suit and the protest has continued into this season. But now, they might be required to stand for the anthem — and one player is furious.
Initially, the league was supportive of the protest. League executives, coaches and team owners supported the protest and stood in solidarity with the players. But things quickly changed. Donald Trump slammed the league for the protests, calling for players who participated to be fired. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones refused to allow the protests on his team. And ratings have been plummeting as well.
For NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, it has apparently all been too much. He sent a letter to all 32 teams, saying that he now expects players to stand during the National Anthem. “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,” he wrote. “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.”
While he didn’t say how he would enforce the new rule, he said that it would “include such elements as an in-season platform to promote the work of our players on these core issues.” It’s expected that these details will be ironed out at the league’s upcoming fall meetings. And Gerald McCoy, of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is not having it.
McCoy, a defensive lineman who has played for eight years, said that there might be “an uproar” on Adam Schefter’s Know Them From Adam podcast if players had to stand for the anthem. “I don’t think guys are gonna like it,” he said. “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.”
He also added, though, that he was not planning to kneel for the anthem, but said he supported the players that did. “I had two teammates who did it, in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. That’s their right to do that,” McCoy said. “And if they’re gonna do it, they’re gonna have support of the whole team. But if you take that away from them, there’s gonna be an uproar. It’s just gonna happen, because now it’s just like you have a voice at one point, but then you don’t at this point. And, that’s our right … it’s a constitutional right that we have, and if you take that away, I don’t think people are gonna take too kindly to it.”
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