The NFL Throws The Flag At Players Who Kneel. Freedom Of Speech Is Not Free.
Ice-T partially named his third album, Freedom Of Speech…Just Watch What You Say! The gold-certified Sire/Warner Bros. Records release was Tracy Marrow’s way of fighting censorship he experienced on the road. One of the biggest rappers in the genre at the time felt he was penalized for making statements in his music. Almost 30 years later, the tactic that inspired that album’s title is still hard at work.
The NFL has apparently determined how to handle its players protesting the lives of wrongfully killed Black men and women at the hands of unpunished law enforcement. While President Barack Obama viewed the demonstrations as an exercise of a Constitutional right, Donald Trump has condemned players who protest.
The protests increased public dialogue, prompted ongoing boycotts, and as a result, hurt NFL TV ratings. Last October, team owners, several players, and NFL executives met for a closed-door meeting in New York City. They discussed the kneeling during the “Star Spangled Banner,” Colin Kaepernick not being signed to any team, Donald Trump’s call to fire protesting players, and overall suggestions to possibly clean up the league’s public relations. That congregation settled on an $89 million commitment to social justice causes. However, the kneeling continued.
CNN just confirmed that today (May 23), NFL owners determined that players must stand for the National Anthem. “A statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said team owners unanimously agreed that the NFL can fine a team whose players protests on the sidelines during the National Anthem, but that each team will set will its own rules regarding players who want to kneel,” reports Jill Martin. Goodell states, “It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.” Despite that remark, kneelers can now expect fines by demonstrating before the public.
Previously, no NFL rules banned kneeling for the National Anthem or protests. CNN reports that under the new mandate, players will be allowed to remain in the locker-room for the playing of the anthem if they wish.
The decision comes as two inactive players, former San Francisco 49ers teammates Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, have filed formal grievances into the league and its owners, prompting ongoing investigations. Both players contend that due to their protests, they were deliberately unsigned by any time, suspecting league collusion. Kaepernick, who began kneeling throughout the 2016 pre-season and season, has been awarded by GQ magazine and Amnesty International for his humanitarian efforts and bringing awareness to the causes in his protests.