Finally, the NFL takes a stand against the knee

Buffalo Bills kneeling in 2017
Buffalo Bills players take a knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. [Photo Credit: AP Photo |Jeffrey T. Barnes]

The NFL announced new guidelines for players, in terms of how the respond to the National Anthem on Wednesday, and my reaction is (along with the rest of patriotic America): FINALLY.

For the love of all that’s holy, the NFL is a business. Now granted the players are athletes (in some cases also entertainers), they still work for a larger organization. And that organization has a message and goals of its own:


Football and community are the twin pillars of the NFL. Whether nationally at the league level, locally at the team level, or individually through the volunteerism and philanthropy of owners, players, coaches and club personnel, there exists a powerful NFL-wide commitment to giving back. This commitment is year-round-there is no offseason to the NFL’s multi-tiered, ongoing work to strengthen America’s communities.

Through the active involvement of the 32 NFL teams, and long-standing partners, the league is able to make a positive difference in America’s communities and connect with millions of fans each year.

That message has been hijacked by those few who wish to have their political agendas drive the message of an entire organization made up of 32 teams and nearly 1,700 players.

Saturday, Aug. 26, 2016 was the first day 49ers player Colin Kaepernick chose not to rise to his feet for the playing of the national anthem. The outcry against Kaepernick, and other players following suit, came to a head during the 2017 NFL season, when even President Donald Trump got involved and weighed-in. It seems unheard of that it would take the organization this long to stand up to those defiant, unpatriotic players and say ‘it’s time to stop politicizing sports. You can’t make the game into something that it was never intended to be.’ A political spectacle.

In the past year and a half, I’ve seen a lot of people defend the players’ actions as protected by the freedom of speech. Everybody has First Amendment rights, even these players — it’s a wonderful thing. As someone who is involved in both politics and the news business, I certainly appreciate all the aspects of the First Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

At the same time, players need to understand you can’t just walk into your workplace and have your personal and political beliefs override the mission statement of said company and what they’re trying to accomplish. You have to separate the two. Starting football games with controversial political messages has led the NFL to lose viewers and supporters. That’s a loss of profits for the NFL and the teams. That’s unacceptable.

I know that I personally have been disheartened and frustrated by the vocal minority of players who have chosen to take a knee during the National Anthem and the a sideshow that has become. Kudos to the NFL for taking back control of organization.

Inevitably there will be players who make a mockery of this decision and try and cash-in another 15 minutes of political fame. I hope that their teams, coaches and teammates come down on them hard and say it’s time to get back to point of the NFL: football. Use your free time to exercise your first amendment rights.