Last week, the NFL announced a new policy that allows players or teams to stay in the locker room during the rendition of the National Anthem, but anyone who is on the field and not standing will earn their franchise a fine.
Naturally, the world hasn't tired of the news since. Numerous fans have even gone as far as to threaten a boycott of the league over the announcement, much like many on the other side did when the protests arose in the first place.
Personally, while it could be potentially unpopular where I’m writing this, I’ve always been pretty supportive of the players and their right to peaceably protest, and I stand by that view. I was admittedly annoyed by the political distraction when Colin Kaepernick introduced the saga to the world on opening day in 2016, but supportive nonetheless.
Pundits from every arena have devoured the coverage and individuals from other professional sports continue to weigh in on the issue. On Thursday, Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors, called the move “typical” of the NFL and “idiotic.”
Does he have a case? That’s for you to decide, but Kerr seems to be neglecting the fact that the NBA has a policy that states that their players, coaches and trainers must “stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line” during the National Anthem.
I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Kerr should’ve at least showed that he is mindful of said policy in the league he coaches in. One could certainly argue that it doesn't matter because the NBA obviously has other ways of “handling their business,” as Kerr states, without kneeling. But that might also imply that it’s the “business” that matters and not the policy. Is that statement to suggest that it’s the NFL players who need to “handle their business” better to avoid this like the NBA has?
Kerr was surely right about one thing: the NFL seems to have a knack for controversy with every decision. That, at least, was indeed typical.
As for the fans, I hope they’re ready to boycott the NBA for their policy as well until we see how they would react to it. There’s no such policy in the MLB or NHL, so the NBA was actually the only major sports league in the country with any specific guidelines on the matter until now.
It also remains unclear exactly how the actual process was handled. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that the owners voted unanimously in favor, but there have also been conflicting reports suggesting that at least one owner abstained or that an official vote never took place at all. So, for now at least, the attack on the NFL owners seems premature.
Now, the saga is a mess any way you look at it. Like all of our issues, there will be no resolution that doesn't infuriate about half of us. So, as someone who tends to fall in the middle of the political spectrum, I’ll probably end up making everybody mad instead of nobody. Regardless of which side you fall, it’s important to incorporate the facts into every issue, no matter how sensitive, and to never abandon logic in the pursuit of answers.
As for Colin Kaepernick, it’s understandable why he was never signed by another team, and it’s not because every NFL owner is a racist. What people who don’t follow football until an issue like this arises don’t understand is that bringing in Kaepernick as a backup simply wasn't worth it for a number of teams. Don’t get me wrong, he was good enough to be on an NFL roster, but he wasn't good enough to have to endure the media circus that would’ve inevitably followed. There’s no question there were weaker arms on depth charts, but why would you want to surround yourself with all of that non-football attention as a general manager or coach unless you wanted that man as your starter?
Bearing that in mind, the argument became relatively simple: was there a team that could, with total confidence, bring in Kaepernick as their starter? Then, one would have had to take every team’s quarterback situation into individual consideration and naturally eliminate the obvious teams with a player at the position who was established and/or financially entrusted by the organization. So, the basis that all 32 NFL teams and their management are evil was quite misleading in the case of Colin Kaepernick. Further, one needs to factor in a given team’s offensive scheme and which player will fit it best. All told, there were just a handful of teams who would’ve looked into him anyways, which is true of many free agents. At that point in his career, the best possibility was probably a chance to win a starting job in camp.
At the end of the day, Kaepernick was a player with his ups and downs on the field and an above average quarterback. Was he special enough to place an even bigger magnifying glass on your team’s affairs to the outside world? Probably not, but that’s one man’s opinion.