Taking a knee during anthem isn’t the answer for NFL players

12:00 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 Sports

Peyton Manning has set a record for most TV commercials by a sports celebrity. That’s by my unofficial count. The current Nationwide spot he does with Brad Paisley is hilarious. “Almost there. Almost.”

I’m trying to keep an open mind about kneeling knuckleheads who have decided to make spectacles of themselves during the playing of the national anthem at NFL games. If you’re a sports fan who respects the flag, I suggest tuning into games after they kick off. These protests are here to stay. In fact, they will become the cool thing to do when the NBA season tips off in a few weeks.

Our great country allows for free speech, so athletes can kneel if their employers (who sign their checks) are OK with it. Racial equality certainly is something worth fighting for, but I think the players are going about this the wrong way. They talk about unity, but these displays anger tens of millions of Americans who might otherwise support them. Lock arms during the anthem. Cool. Take a knee before the anthem is played. Great. Take a knee at the 2-minute warning. There are better options.

I’m not sure what to make of the Steelers’ “nonpolitical” (cop-out) move to stay in the tunnel during the playing of the anthem at Soldier Field. I’ve always admired Mike Tomlin, but something I read in a story on espn.com about the Steelers’ decision was troubling. The story indicated that the team “decided to stay in the tunnel to remain nonpolitical, [Tomlin] said, protecting players who didn’t want to demonstrate or protest.” Since when do players who stand during the anthem need protection?

It’s a shame that Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva felt the need to apologize for standing at attention with his hand over his heart during the anthem. The former Army Ranger became one of the NFL’s most popular players overnight. His jersey was No. 1 in sales on Monday. What did the big guy do with the extra dough? He’s donating it to the USO and other nonprofits that support the military.

The FBI investigation into corruption and bribery in college basketball is going to get real messy when some of the assistant coaches who were arrested start flipping. The FBI will ask them, “Hey, why should you go to jail when the guy calling the shots gets to keep his job?” I wonder if the NCAA appreciates the work done by the feds, or would the toothless organization rather not bother with the fallout?

What over-the-hill player will the Cavaliers add to their roster this week? The addition of Dwyane Wade (age 35) is intriguing, but the former all-star is way past his prime. There are 19 players listed on the Cavs roster on nba.com. Eight are older than 30. Of the guys who will see playing time, Tristan Thompson (26) is the youngest. Derrick Rose turns 29 (going on 49) on Monday.

Trending up: Deshaun Watson, Keith Marshall, Rob Kelley. Watson, the Houston Texans rookie quarterback, proved that an NFL player can make a difference in his community without making a fool of himself before kickoff. Watson donated his first paycheck to three women who work in the cafeteria at NRG Stadium, where the Texans play. They were victims of Hurricane Harvey. Check out the video online. What a great kid.

Trending down: Odell Beckham Jr., Rubber Bowl, Andrew Luck. Beckham celebrated a touchdown against the Eagles by getting down on all fours and raising his right leg to imitate a dog relieving itself on the field at Philadelphia. Beckham has been a classless diva ever since he made that one-handed catch in prime time a few years ago against the Cowboys.

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