breaking news

Accident closes I-75 south between Needmore Road and Wagner Ford 

Opinion: Will NFL demand respect for Old Glory?


“America refuses to address the pervasive evil of white cops killing black men, and I will not stand during a national anthem that honors the flag of such a country!”

That is the message Colin Kaepernick sent by “taking a knee” during the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner” before San Francisco ’49s games in 2016. No NFL owner picked up his contract in 2017. But a few players began to copy Colin and to “take a knee.”

Friday night in Alabama, President Trump raged that any NFL player who disrespects Old Glory is a “son of a b—-h” who ought to be kicked off the field and fired by his team’s owner. And if the owners refuse to do their patriotic duty, the fans should take a walk on the NFL.

And so the stage was set for NFL Sunday.

Two hundred players, almost all black, knelt or sat during the national anthem. The Patriots’ Tom Brady stood in respect for the flag, while locking arms in solidarity with kneeling teammates.

The Pittsburgh Steelers coach kept his team in the locker room. Steeler Alejandro Villanueva, an ex-Army Ranger and combat vet, came out and stood erect and alone on the field.

For NFL players, coaches, commentators, owners and fans, it was an uncomfortable and sad day. And it is not going to get any better. Sundays with the NFL, as a day of family and friends, rest and respite from the name-calling nastiness of American politics, is over.

The culture war has come to the NFL. And Trump will be proven right. Having most players stand respectfully during the national anthem, while locking arms with other players sitting or kneeling in disrespect of the flag, is a practice the NFL cannot sustain.

The mega-millionaire and billionaire owners of NFL franchises are going to have to come down off the fence and take a stand.

The issue is not the First Amendment. It is not whether players have a right to air their views about what cops did to Michael Brown in Ferguson, or Eric Garner in Staten Island, or Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Players have a right to speak, march in protest, or even burn the flag.

The question NFL owners are going to have to answer soon with a definitive “yes” or “no” is this: Do players, before games, have a right, as a form of protest, to dishonor and disrespect the flag of the United States and the republic for which it stands? Or is that intolerable conduct that the NFL will punish?

Trump is taking a beating from owners, players and press for being “divisive.” But he did not start this fight or divide the country over it.

Kaepernick did, and the players who emulated him, and the coaches and owners who refuse to declare whether insulting the flag is now permissible behavior in the NFL.

As Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Sunday, team owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell have strict rules for NFL games. No NASCAR-type ads on uniforms. Restrictions on end-zone dances.

Our Supreme Court has denied coaches of public high school teams the right to gather players for voluntary prayer before games. Why not an NFL rule requiring players to stand respectfully silent during the national anthem, and, if they refuse, suspend them from play for that day?

Sunday’s game exposed a clash of loyalties in the hearts of NFL players.

This conflict in loyalties among NFL players mirrors that of our country, as America divides and our society disintegrates over issues of morality, patriotism, race and culture.

In terms of fame and fortune, no professions have proven more rewarding for young black American males than the NFL and the NBA.

Whether they soil their nest is, in the last analysis, up to them.

Writes for Creators Syndicate.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Parkland school student rises up to challenge gun carnage

WASHINGTON — It was a profoundly poignant image: Thirty to 40 teens huddled together in a small dark room, their downturned faces illuminated by cellphones as they learned about an active shooter prowling their school. Via news apps, these survivors of Wednesday’s murderous rampage at a Parkland, Florida, high school, where 17 were killed...
Opinion: Will automation kill our jobs?

A recent article in The Guardian dons the foreboding title “Robots will destroy our jobs — and we’re not ready for it.” The article claims, “For every job created by robotic automation, several more will be eliminated entirely. … This disruption will have a devastating impact on our workforce.” According to...
Opinion: ‘Daily Me’ undermines ability to understand ‘other side’

We live in two Americas. In one America, a mentally unstable president selected partly by Russia lies daily and stirs up bigotry that tears our social fabric. In another America, a can-do president tries to make America great again as lying journalists stir up hatred that tears our social fabric. The one thing we all agree on: Our social fabric is...
Opinion: Official portraits test our feelings about the Obama era

Well, what did you think? What sounded to me like the Gasp Heard ’Round the World followed the unveilings of the official portraits of former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. Or, as my own immediate, largely unschooled and low-brow reaction sounded, “Ooooh … ahhhh...
Opinion: Will automation kill our jobs?

A recent article in The Guardian dons the foreboding title “Robots will destroy our jobs — and we’re not ready for it.” The article claims, “For every job created by robotic automation, several more will be eliminated entirely. … This disruption will have a devastating impact on our workforce.” According to...
More Stories