Like an offensive coordinator attempting to find the right way to break through a defensive line, the NFL has called for a number of plays in its efforts to accommodate both their players who feel compelled to protest during the national anthem and their increasingly angry fans.
These efforts have ranged from having the players stand together with locked arms during the anthem, to keeping players in the locker room until the anthem is over, and even to having the team kneel before – rather than during – the anthem’s playing.
However, none of these tactics have been completely successful, as NFL TV ratings continue to be sacked by viewers who are throwing a penalty flag at the protestors.
Now, according to the Charlotte Observer, the NFL may be ready to call a new play in advance of Sunday’s Patriots-Panthers game. And it’s a bit of a Hail Mary.
While it’s uncertain if Carolina Panthers players plan protests during the national anthem during Sunday’s game at New England, there is a chance that television viewers won’t get to see them as they happen.
In other words, if it offends too many people to either stand for the national anthem or see people NOT standing for the anthem, let’s simply not broadcast it at all.
Eric Shanks, the president of Fox Sports, told Newsday’s Neil Best earlier this week that his crews plan to return to “standard procedure” this week for NFL broadcasts. That doesn’t include showing the national anthem live for most games because the network normally airs commercials then.
Shanks left the option open, however.
“So I think we’re going to pay attention to events,” Shanks told Newsday. “… A lot of time is happening between now and then.”
Not airing the protests may have the effect – whether intentionally or unintentionally – of quelling the NFL protests, as protestors generally don’t bother to protest if they aren’t in a spotlight.
This play would be well-advised for the NFL. It may not get them to the end zone but it would at least enable them to avoid a substantial loss of yards. This is because the Patriot-Panthers game should have a high viewership as it will feature a marquee matchup between two of the league’s best-known quarterbacks: Tom Brady of the Patriots and the Panthers’ Cam Newton.
Cam Newton has already warned “he is “absolutely” considering some sort of protest during the anthem”.
Whatever Mr. Newton has planned, one can be certain that a great percentage of the fans won’t want to see it. And they may not be allowed to.