Apparently, many NFL players are not going to take an order from the NFL to stand for the national anthem lying down.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Gerald McCoy, speaking on Adam Schefter’s Know Them From Adam podcast, said he thinks there might “be an uproar” if NFL players are forced to stand for the national anthem.
“I don’t think guys are gonna like it,” McCoy said, when asked about the possible reaction from players. “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.”
Mr. McCoy’s comment comes as a response to a letter from Commissioner Roger Goodell stating, “Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem.”
This morning, Trump showed he liked the apparent directive, tweeting,
It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
Tensions between players and owners were already tightened prior to the Goodell letter, when Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones essentially stated that his players must stand for the anthem or sit for the game. Together, the Goodell letter and the Jones decree infuriated the Left, forcing them into over-the-top actions and silly comments.
But the NFL tried to play down the rift this morning, when it issued a statement: “Commentary this morning about the Commissioner’s position on the Anthem is not accurate.” It said it’s “doing the hard work of trying to move from protest to progress, working to bring people together.”
The debate is making some on the Left batty. ESPN commentator Jemile Hill’s suspension for suggesting fans boycott Cowboy advertisers has led Al Sharpton to call for a boycott of ESPN.
However, much like the decline in NFL ratings show how badly the NFL underestimated (or disregarded) fan reaction to the kneeling protest, the Left’s reaction to the league’s desire to punt on this issue shows how badly the NFL misunderstands their right to protest.
Although people like Gerald McCoy and Michael Wilbon may believe there’s “a constitutional right to freedom of speech” involved, in fact there’s no such right at issue here.
An NFL team owner has the right to tell a football player (an employee) who is wearing his uniform, playing for the his team and cashing his checks that he doesn’t want him or any employee of his business doing things on the job that the owner considers to be bad for his brand.
This is similar in principle to a Chick-fil-A franchise owner telling a Chick-fil-A employee he or she does not have the right to punch in at Chick-fil-A, wear a Chick-fil-A uniform, stand behind a Chick-fil-A counter and engage customers on issues such as abortion and income inequality.
If football players are slaves, then the vast majority of us — who are not allowed to make political protests while “on the clock” — are slaves as well.