Speaking earlier last month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that football fans should be more understanding when players protest the national anthem. During a Q&A session with Arizona Cardinals season-ticket holders, the ‘commish’ urged people to try and understand the perspective of players who choose to sit during the national anthem.
According to ESPN.com, when asked by a Cardinals fan if protests are “going to be another problem” this season, Goodell responded,
“It’s one of those things where we have to understand that there are people who have different viewpoints. It’s something that I think everybody wants. The national anthem is a special moment for me. It’s a point of pride. That is a really important moment but we also have to understand the other side, that people do have rights and we want to respect those.”
That’s an interesting tune for him to be singing, but is it consistent?
When taking into consideration other players’ viewpoints and desires to make political — even pseudo-political or non-political statements or gestures — the NFL certainly seems not to have been as accommodating in years past.
Another former-NFL player used to choose to exercise his right of expression while on the field of play.
Devout Christian Tim Tebow would routinely kneel as an expression of praise and gratitude to God while on the field in uniform. Remember how well that went over? Today, an NFL player kneeling in protest is considered “unifying,” but according to MSNBC, when Tebow knelt in prayer it was “polarizing.”
Both the NFL and the media bashed Tebow for kneeling on the field in prayer, with NBC’s Matt Lauer in 2015 calling Tebow “one of the most popular and polarizing quarterbacks in NFL history.” Chelsea Handler said that if she dated Tebow, it would be “reverse rape.”
The public loved it, and his iconic posture caught viral fire as people around the world began posting pictures of themselves “Tebowing” on social media.
However, the NFL was not as enamored.
And there are other cases. On July 8, 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson launched a cowardly ambush attack, then used a sniper rifle to assassinate five police officers on the streets of Dallas, Texas. The killings were horrific, as brave men and women in blue rushed toward the gunshots — only to have their lives ended for their heroism.
In an effort to show support for the community and for the fallen, the Cowboys wanted to wear a tiny helmet sticker honoring the five slain officers. The NFL, which (now?) ‘supports individual freedom of expression’ for its players, refused to allow the Cowboys to wear it.
“The Arm in Arm decal the Cowboys unveiled to open training camp won’t be on their helmets when the club opens its preseason schedule Saturday at the Los Angeles Rams.
The Cowboys heard back from the NFL on Wednesday and were told by league officials they can’t wear the decal during any preseason or regular-season games, executive vice president Stephen Jones said.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation told TMZ it was “extremely upset” by the NFL’s decision.
“The NFL had an opportunity to be leaders and advocates for change in law enforcement,” Sgt. Demetrick Pennie, president of the foundation, said. “These are our friends and our loved ones … it hurts to not have the NFL fully support us,” he added.” Was reported by DallasNews.com.
And lest we forget, just last year the same NFL that threatened to fine Tennessee Titans’ linebacker Avery Williamson if he offered a personal memorial to those who lost their lives on 9/11 by wearing special shoes commemorating the attack’s fifteenth anniversary.
National Football League, your true colors are showing and fans aren’t liking it. How this all turns out remains to be seen, but I wish you luck if you’re going to try to seek public financing for any new billion-dollar stadium anytime soon. Like Hollywood and several other institutions, your disdain for patriotism is going to cost you dearly.
In fact, it already has.
[NOTE: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn, Founder and Chairman of the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives, and a speaker, author, columnist and analyst for multiple print and broadcast media outlets. Follow him on Facebook and at RMBConservatives.com.