The NFL players that have protested have brought awareness to a very serious issue. The issue of racial equality and criminal justice reform are now something that is in the public eye. Ironically, the New Orleans Saints have been on the road the last few weeks. Now they’ll return to a crowd that may be divided.
The writing is on the wall now. Roger Goodell is now sounding off in a much more aggressive tone as of late. Goodell is seemingly starting to lean towards enforcing some sort of “must stand” rule soon.
In the meantime, the players could be faced with a very difficult decision in the next few weeks or sooner. If there is a rule out there that takes away the choice to kneel or stand what will the players do? The issue at hand is complex and will take longer than a year to fix for sure. However, there could be a timetable set tp speed things up if the political higher ups decide to make this about politics.
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Ironically, this memo that has been sent out comes on the heels of Vice President Mike Pence leaving the Colts, 49ers game early because of players kneeling. The decision to leave early was obviously supported by President Donald Trump. All these political connections really don’t help the NFL at all. Regardless of whether or not what side you’re on.
The NFL wants fans on both sides of the aisle to attend their games. And the fact of the matter is that the only color that really matters is green. In other words, cash is king in this huge brand that the NFL has been built upon. Controversy is the worse thing for the NFL. Issues have been raised before like domestic violence but nothing was instituted until “the tape” came out.
Only then did the NFL move expeditiously to tackle an ongoing problem. The only problem is that the reaction did not look authentic. Goodell even admitted that the progress was slow to it.
The Anthem issue
Now the problem is much more convoluted and polarizing. The American flag for many represents so many things to so many people. People have died for it. With that comes an unwavering loyalty to an object that many Americans view as a symbol of the military and veterans.
The players have made it clear that the protests are not anti-military or anti-American. Teams have come together to make a decision on how they would come out for the National Anthem. The Saints have done it just this past week in London. Although for some, it was too late.
Interestingly enough, The Saints have been on the road since these protests really started revving up. Sunday will be the first time the Black and Gold has played at home since September 17th against the New England Patriots.
It will be interesting to see how fans are going to react on both sides when the Saints take the field. There have been rumors of possible protests from the fans backing an NFL boycott. Regardless, the issue is now front and center. And it looks like the players will have to decide how and if they want to continue protesting in a public arena for a very complicated issue.