The National Anthem controversy won’t go away for the NFL.
It has with the Denver Broncos. The matter was resolved two weeks ago when the players agreed to stand as a team during the playing of the Star Spangled Banners.
But it’s still a hot topic for the league as a couple dozen players from various teams are still using the Anthem as a protest, while President Trump uses Twitter to condemn the demonstrations.
The owners are gathering next Tuesday to discuss the issue, and let’s face it, right or wrong, the only way the controversy likely goes away is if everyone stands. See the Broncos.
That doesn’t mean some players shouldn’t have felt offended when the President referred to them as “S.O.B.’s’’ last month. It just means that so long as some players sit or kneel during the National Anthem there will be fans who don’t like it.
I have talked to people who have said they have stopped watching the NFL because of the Anthem protests. The NFL is well aware of its protesting customers to the player protests.
There has been speculation NFL commissioner Roger Goodell may attempt to reach an agreement with the players on standing for the National Anthem – while stopping short of calling it a mandate – next week.
How would a mandate go over with the players?
“I stand, anyway,’’ said Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib. “Taking a knee and all that that’s not going to solve the problem in my eyes. There definitely is a problem out there but taking a knee and all that – I stand for the people who go to war for us, man. Trump may take us to the war again and then those guys are going to go to war for us again so that’s why I’m standing. I appreciate everything those guys do.’’
Talib was among the many Broncos who took a knee during the National Anthem prior to game 3 against the Buffalo Bills. But that appeared to be a protest specific to the President’s demeaning rhetoric, not the country’s social injustice, as it was during protests sparked by Colin Kaepernick last year.
And for the Broncos, it appears to be a one-time protest. All Bronco players stood for the Anthem the following week prior to their game against the Oakland Raiders. (All Raiders stood except for running back Marshawn Lynch, who sat.)
Despite Trump’s wishes, NFL owners are not likely to issue their players an ultimatum to stand for the National Anthem. There are union labor laws to consider and the owners do appear sensitive to players’ rights regarding this matter.
Perhaps, the only way this gets resolved is if the owners sit down face to face with union leaders and players. Players like Aqib Talib.