American President, Donald Trump’s beef with the National Football League (NFL) is far from over as on Friday the 20th of July, the outspoken President was at it again, this time criticising the NFL for deciding to put all the new rules regarding the national anthem policy on hold.
“The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it,” tweeted Trump. He even displayed his dictatorship mentality when he ordered Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of NFL to take a stand, referring to Goodell as the “$40,000,000 Commissioner.”
Isn’t it in the contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? First time kneeling, out for a game. Second time kneeling, out for the season or no pay!
Trump and the NFL
Trump’s conflict with the NFL dates back to the 1980s. He tried multiple times to become an NFL team owner but they thought he was a “scumbag huckster,” Jeff Pearlman, sports author told Newsweek. “He was this New York, fast-talking, kind of conman.”
The President of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), Eric Winston, replied to Trump’s suggestion tweet. He said, “Thanks for your thoughts, but we’ll take it from here.”
National Anthem Policy on Hold
The decision to put the new rules on hold was made after wild criticism was thrown at the Miami Dolphins after they had revealed last Thursday that they will fine or suspend players who violate the national anthem policy.
This was more like a scare tactic employed to put an end to the kneeling movement. But instead, they just added more fuel to the fire as their actions didn’t sit well with the general public and NFL followers who expressed their shock and disapproval on social media.
In a statement, the NFL and NFLFA said: “In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s national anthem policy.
“No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.”
The discussion as to how to deal with those “sons of bitches” (as Trump would say) who kneel during the national anthem annoyed him as it is against his orders of simply punishing those who do not respect the flag.
In May, after the NFL came up with a new policy that would arm-twist players who kneel or display any of form of disrespect during the anthem to receive a four-match suspension, the NFLPA put forward a formal complaint against the league for the players as the policy “infringes on players rights.”
The national anthem policy was approved by the NFL owners unanimously but Trump once again hurled a few verbal zingers at the NFL new rule, stating that players who don’t want to stand can stay in the locker room for the duration of the anthem. He said going into the locker room is worse than having the players not stand.
Two of the owners even went as far as admitting that Trump changed their minds. According to The Wall Street Journal, Stephen Ross, the Miami Dolphins’ owner said in his deposition that he was totally supportive of the players until Trump made his statement.
Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner said he personally had a chat with the President about the issue. “This is a very winning, strong issue for me, tell everybody, you can’t win this one. This one lifts me,” he said Trump said in a phone call. Jones also told Sports Illustrated that Trump initiated some of the thinking, and “was part of the entire picture.”
Kneeling to Protest Polic Brutality
In the United States of America kneeling during the National Anthem as a way to peacefully protest police brutality and systemic racism is regarded as unpatriotic and disrespectful and it will lead to one losing their job.
It is normal for police officers to go around assaulting, shooting and killing unarmed people of color for fun and getting away with it because a black person is always on the receiving end of the law.
You would think black athletes with money and status who challenge the racist American system for those who can’t defend themselves would be the exception, but that is not the case. For instance, NFL player Desmond Marrow was beaten up and choked by the police without a valid reason. Thabo Sefolosha (also an NBA player) had his leg broken by a police officer, and Sterling Brown (another NBA player) was tasered for no reason.
The kneeling movement was started back in 2016 by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to fight against police brutality and racial inequality in the United States.
Kaepernick started the protest by sitting the during anthem but was advised by former Army Green Beret, Nate Boyer that kneeling would be a more appropriate way to protest without disrespecting the army and the flag.
In September 2017, Trump made some nasty remarks during a campaign rally in Alabama that led to many players from different sporting codes, as well as celebrities, joining the players’ kneeling movement. He said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired.”
Not all the owners are against their players kneeling. New York Giants’ owner Steve Tisch said his players will not be punished, “We support our players”. New York Jets’ owner Christopher Johnson said he will pay the fines for any player who protests during the anthem.
Unfortunately for Kaepernick, speaking out and exercising his freedom of speech resulted in him being blacklisted from the NFL. He has remained unsigned ever since he became a free agent at the end of the 2016 season despite being regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Sport Used to Unite a Nation
In South Africa, the late former president, Nelson Mandela used sport to bring different races of people together. It was also a place where people could rise above the country’s politics and the brutal past of the apartheid system. But in America, the current president is using sport to divide the nation and display his dislike for people of color.
It is not a secret that Trump prefers white people over black. With pride and confidence, he said the NFL kneeling controversy “has nothing to do with race.” To the president, those who kneel do it for the sake of displaying their dislike and disrespect for the American flag.
It is clear as daylight that Trump’s complaints are not actually about the national anthem, but rather about silencing black athletes and oppressing the black community as not everyone freezes out of respect for the flag.
The past CEO of Fan Sided and founder of The Left, Adam Best said that if this was really about the national anthem “all the NFL teams would bar entry to stadiums, close restrooms, and shut down concession stands and merchandise shops during the song. This isn’t about the anthem at all.
“During the anthem, NFL fans are setting fantasy line-ups on phones, buying beers, sneaking a pee before kick-off, purchasing team apparel, still tailgating, hustling to their seat. I have been going to games my whole life.”
If the athletes had explained that they were taking a knee to honor soldiers rather than protect police brutality, Trump and the team owners would be singing their praises.
Despite players being threatened with fines and the possibility of job losses, Titans lineman Jurrell Casey is not going to stop protecting anytime soon. He said he will continue in the coming season and pay whatever fine is handed down to him
Speaking to CNN in an interview he said:
It is what it is, I am not going to let them stop me from doing what I want to do. If they want to have these battles between players and organizations, this is the way it’s going to be. I will continue to use my platform to keep on speaking up.
Players have been protesting for two seasons now and it is likely that they will continue while Trump remains eager to forge ahead with his vendetta against the NFL.