This weekend has been one full of United States national anthem protests, Presidential rallies, and attacks against those who do such Protesting. The event that started this slippery slope began Friday night, at President Trump’s rally in Alabama at which he gave a speech. In this speech President Trump touched on a plethora of topics ranging from health care, the nuclear threat of North Korea and NFL protests of the national anthem.
The President slammed national anthem protestors such as NFL Free-agent Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee during the national anthem, saying that NFL team owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired,’ ” Trump said.
President Trump’s words reverberated throughout the NFL community over the weekend drawing waves of backlash from players and team owners alike. The president’s comments also attracted the attention of NFL commissioner Roger Goddell who said on Saturday that “divisive comments” show “an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL.”
Sunday night football ratings during the primetime game between the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders were down 11% from last year and 9% from last week’s primetime game. This is thought to be the result of the players of from both teams protesting the national anthem. However not only the primetime game included players not participating in the national anthem. In fact, owners and General Managers of all 32 teams in the NFL released statements giving their response to President Trump’s words. More recently on Monday night football, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones joined the Cowboys in a kneel during the national anthem.
Now, as far as consequences for players goes, the responsibility falls in two places. The Team administration and the NFL administration. Up until recently most instances of national anthem protesting have been on an individual player basis and were dealt with individually like in the case of Colin Kaepernick the once backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers’ is now a free-agent due to him opting out of his $14.4 million contract. But now that team administrations are refusing to reprimand players for participating in national anthem and in most cases now participate in said protests themselves the responsibility to act now falls on the NFL and its administration. An excerpt from the NFL official rules reads as follows,
“SECTION 3 UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT ARTICLE 1. PROHIBITED ACTS. There shall be no unsportsmanlike conduct. This applies to any act which is contrary to the generally understood principles of sportsmanship. Such acts specifically include, among others: (a) Throwing a punch, or a forearm, or kicking at an opponent, even though no contact is made. (b) Using abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures to opponents, teammates, officials, or representatives of the League. (c) Using baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will between teams. (d) Prolonged or excessive celebrations or demonstrations by an individual player. Players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground. A celebration or demonstration shall be deemed excessive or prolonged if a player continues to celebrate or demonstrate after a warning from an official. (e) Two or more players engaging in prolonged, excessive, premeditated, or choreographed celebrations or demonstrations. (f) Possession or use of foreign or extraneous object(s) that are not part of the uniform on the field or the sideline during the game. (g) Using the ball or any other object including pylons, goal posts, or crossbars, as a prop. (h) Unnecessary physical contact with a game official. (i) Removal of his helmet by a player in the field of play or the end zone during a celebration or demonstration, or during a confrontation with a game official or any other player.”
By the words used in the NFL rules a “prolonged demonstration” like a protest of the national anthem should warrant some action from the league as it is listed as a “Prohibited Act”.