After weeks of controversy, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and several team owners are beginning to turn against football players who protest during the national anthem. That’s led to discontent among some of the NFL’s most visible anthem protesters — and it could culminate in a star-spangled showdown between league officials and intractable player-protesters.
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins says that he would defy any demands from the NFL or his team to stand for the national anthem during games and pressured league owners to begin openly espousing the issues of protesting players.
Jenkins — who has raised his fist for the national anthem during games this year and last — made the remarks Monday, a day after Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones forbade any Cowboys players from sitting or kneeling during the national anthem, as well as disrespecting the American flag in any manner.
According to Fox News, Jones said during a Sunday postgame press conference that “if there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play. OK? Understand? If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won’t play. Period.”
Sports Illustrated also reported that the league is looking to possibly mandate standing for the anthem at a meeting next week. This comes on the heels of a memo by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in which he strongly urged all NFL players to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“We live in a country that can feel very divided. Sports, and especially the NFL, brings people together and lets them set aside those divisions, at least for a few hours,” Goodell wrote in the Tuesday memo to the league’s teams, according to Fox News. “The current dispute over the National Anthem is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country.”
“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem,” he added. “It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.”
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump tweeted that he was happy Goodell was “finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem – RESPECT OUR COUNTRY.”
None of those things would have sat well with Jenkins, who apparently believes the NFL is some gargantuan non-profit political action committee contrived to dictate unpopular opinions to flyover America — one that just so happens to play televised charity matches on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays.
“I would still do it,” Jenkins said of protesting during the anthem, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I mean, I’ve been that committed to it because that decision is not mine. I made the decision a year ago that I was going to use my platform in a way to create positive change both on the field and off the field and having someone tell me I couldn’t do that simply because, you know, a president or your bottom line is getting ready to be affected, that wouldn’t deter me.”
Yes, well, the people who pay Jenkins’ salary do tend to care about whether the “bottom line is getting ready to be affected.” (Funny how that works.) At least for right now, Jenkins is grateful that Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie hasn’t gone the Jerry Jones route, but has instead “proactively been in the community and has reached out to try and hear about the issues that we are actually demonstrating to draw attention to.”
“If (Lurie) were to put out such a statement I’d continue my demonstration because my demonstration is in no way disrespectful to our flag, our country or our service members,” Jenkins said. “Neither is anybody in the league who is kneeling. I think we’ve made that very clear that what we are demonstrating about has nothing to do with the flag but everything to do with social injustice, racial inequality and the things that, you know, Jerry Jones and other owners who are making statements have yet to address.”
So you’re not protesting the flag, which is the symbol of our country and a banner under which Americans have fought and died under for more than two centuries. You’re just protesting “social injustice” … by protesting the flag, which is the symbol of our country and a banner under which Americans have fought and died under for more than two centuries.
He also said that it was high time for owners to agree with the players completely start speaking out about what they believe in terms of the issues protesting players want addressed.
“And so I’d love to hear their takes on that part of the conversation, what these players are trying to draw attention to,” Jenkins said. “Their thoughts on, you know, police brutality and racial inequality, education gap, the economical gap in these communities that they make money in. And I’d love to hear that part of the conversation so that it’s not so argumentative, so that it’s not isolating the players who are trying to do the right thing with the platform that they have.”
When liberals say they want to “start a conversation” about something in America today, they’re not actually using the definition of “conversation,” you, myself, or the folks at Webster’s would use. A cultural “conversation” about a liberal cause in 2017 America usually involves two steps: a) listening to what the liberal calling for the conversation has to say and b) echoing it uncritically.
For those of you quickly reaching for the straw man argument, let me point out that Jerry Jones already contributed to the “conversation” Mr. Jenkins putatively wishes to have. Jones has made it clear he doesn’t believe the protestations of the anthem-kneeling cadre are a valid excuse to show disrespect to the national anthem or the flag.
For this, Jenkins excoriated Jones as being regressive and told him to… join the conversation. If you think anyone with divergent opinions on the other issues the left wants us to “converse” upon would be met with less hostility, you clearly haven’t been paying attention. Jenkins’ statement to the media was made before Goodell’s memo, but one imagines the Eagles safety probably isn’t writing a congratulatory tweet for the commissioner thanking him for adding to the “conversation.”
If Malcolm Jenkins wants to protest “you know, police brutality and racial inequality, education gap, the economical gap in these communities,” he can do so by lending his time and his fame to a panoply of political organizations that do not require him to stand for the national anthem one day a week.
And, should the NFL make standing during the anthem a requirement — and, given the exodus of fans and the relative unpopularity of the sport in the wake of the protests, that seems increasingly likely — and Jenkins and his co-believers find that morally unjustifiable, he can always quit. Nobody is forcing him to be there.
However, I would wager that Jenkins’ “bottom line” isn’t really that “ready to be affected” quite that significantly over this. Funny, again, how that works.
But get ready for some very red glare when these two sides clash publicly.
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