De Smith: No player is disrespecting our country or flag

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Sunday became, in many respects, one of the most monumental days in the history of the anthem controversy. It marked the renewal of the effort by politicians to make the issue their own. It also became the day on which the owners pushed back.

Whether the reasoned, pragmatic approach from Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who has essentially surrendered to the notion that kneeling constitutes disrespect regardless of whether it actually doesn’t, or the aggressive, matter-of-fact, my-way-or-the-highway attitude from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who seems to have grown weary of tiptoeing around what he wants, the owners abandoned months of paralysis and decided to remind everyone that the bosses are the bosses and the workers are the workers.

On Monday morning, the man who leads the union that defends and advances the rights of the workers made his position clear.

“Last week both the Commissioner and the Chair of the NFL Management Council John Mara were clear when they assured our union leaders, in the presence of other owners, that they would respect the Constitutional rights of our members without retribution,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement. “I look forward to the day when everyone in Management can unite and truly embrace and article what that Flag stands for: ‘Liberty and Justice for All’ instead of some of them just talking about standing. We look forward to continuing our talks with them on this very issue.”

As to the claim, previously from outsiders and most recently from Jones, that anything other than standing for the anthem constitutes disrespect, Smith disagrees.

“No player is disrespecting our Country or our Flag. As thousands have shown in the past, it takes bravery and courage to speak and confront these issues as our players have, especially when it is unpopular with some. There is room for Management to do the same and maybe then players do not have to risk the taunts and threats alone. This is their opportunity to lead as well and will be a true test of the motto that ‘Football is Family.’”

Two weeks ago, that was the approach. But with no long-term solution and with players not content to simply get it out of their systems and go back to standing, some owners have decided to do the things they did that allowed them to build and maintain great fortunes — issue orders and expect them to be complied with.

That could end up being a huge mistake. The owners have plenty of power, but on this issue they have none. The more they try to exercise it, the more inclined the players will be to resist. And the more inclined the union will be to stop treating this as a shared concern but as a matter of collective bargaining.

Which is maybe how it should have been treated all along.

If, in the end, the league wants to have the ability to tell players to stand for the anthem, the league needs to be ready to give the players something significant in return. And the harder the owners try to clamor for an outcome they currently don’t have the power to engineer, the bigger the concession should be.

61 responses to “De Smith: No player is disrespecting our country or flag

  1. “And the harder the owners try to clamor for an outcome they currently don’t have the power to engineer, the bigger the concession should be.”

    Should be? Baloney

  2. The NFL’s problem will magically be solved when the Dotard in Chief is removed from office. Until then players will continue to kneel.

  3. That could end up being a huge mistake. The owners have plenty of power, but on this issue they have none. The more they try to exercise it, the more inclined the players will be to resist. And the more inclined the union will be to stop treating this as a shared concern but as a matter of collective bargaining.

    We all know the owners are petrified of a walkout. Why? When the walkout begins, the salaries end… Most of these “millionaires” couldn’t live for a month with their five figure weekly salaries denied…The owners have all the power…

  4. you offer your hand to greet a stranger
    stranger purposely turns their back after seeing your gesture
    “I’m not disrespecting you”, they claim, “I’m just making a statement against people like you”

    makes sense

  5. Just play FOOTBALL and quit using your supposed STAGE to protest or soon enough you won’t have that STAGE to stand on!!! People are sick of watching it and soon enough nobody will! Bye STAGE and bye PAYCHECK!!! They way they are doing it is just dividing us MORE! Yet their too stupid to realize it.

  6. By not standing for the colors when the national anthem is played or performed is showing the utmost disrespect for our flag and country. Protest all you want….Except for the 70 seconds it takes for the anthem. Protest all you want…except when you are punched in on the clock for your job. Hey Smith, what would you do if you came to my work and I started imposing my beliefs and politics onto you? Would you feel not welcomed? Would you leave?

  7. There is no constitutional right to protest the government while at your job. You can do it if you want, but your employer also has the right to fire you or put you some place where you are not a distraction to their product.
    While the NFL may not be able to mandate players having to stand for the Anthem but they can mandate all teams stay in the locker room for the Anthem.

  8. Good try, can’t wait till the football revenues hitit rock bottom, players are hurting themselves

  9. Unless you are at the game, you have to go out of your way to see the protest on your TV. I have yet to see a single anthem on TV this year. I don’t think I saw any last year either. During the playoffs when the NFL and networks delay the opening kickoff is really about the only time you see the anthem before the game. I typically fast forward literally right up to the opening kickoff. This is not an issue for me personally.

    I can’t stand the way either side is handling things, but as an American I have to respect both sides freedom to handle things how they feel best. But for those that want to avoid it altogether it takes no effort (unless of course you are at the stadium)

  10. The kneeling players ARE protesting the anthem. If they are protesting something else, why kneel for the anthem? They are also protesting the flag. When Kaepernick originally started kneeling, he said “I refuse to STAND FOR THE FLAG” of a country that is evil and oppresses minorities. Quit trying to sugarcoat the protest — it is clearly a protest against the anthem and the flag.

  11. As with most societal issues these days, there seems to be more arguments around the meanings and mechanics (all too often shaped by media who have their own agenda) than the actual issue they intended to address.

    Kudos to those players and management that are actually taking action to address the issues being protested.

  12. This whole thing is about disrespecting those police who disrespect U.S. citizens. Those two groups are the only ones the protests are about. It’s not about good cops, the mailman, your grandmother, the military, animal cruelty, or global warming. Let’s everybody stay focused!

  13. For some reason I get a huge laugh whenever I hear that disrespecting the flag in protest is not disrespecting the flag. Ok guys, so by that logic, standing for the flag is not showing respect for the flag, so you might as well stand for it since you’re being paid to show up.

  14. De Smith needs to make sure every Cowboy either sits or takes a knee during the anthem. Call Jerry Jones’ bluff. Let these guys know what America is really all about. What our soldiers are fighting for. It’s called freedom. We have a constitution, and if some people want to disregard it, that’s their problem. The players need to take a stand, and De Smith gets paid to be their leader.

  15. str82dvd says:

    For some reason I get a huge laugh whenever I hear that disrespecting the flag in protest is not disrespecting the flag.
    ===========================================================

    It’s like when I was on the ground in Iraq in 2003, and the people back home protesting us being there tried to claim they were really supporting us. As if we were all draftees or something. We got a laugh out of that.

  16. They made it about the flag though, otherwise you would protest elsewhere. Im tired of hearing its not about the flag, sorry you made it that way. Just like they have constitutional right to protest, we have the same right to be angry about it.

  17. I think it would be helpful if De Smith issued a statement explaining exactly why the players are kneeling. Go on written record so we all know once and for all.

  18. It is absolutely amazing how completely predictable every NFL scandal of the last ten years has been. I’ve seen blind cats with more foresight than the NFL management.

  19. This just keeps showing that De and the players don’t get it. They really just don’t get it.

    Nobody is infringing on their rights. They haven’t been told that they can’t do it on their time. They are being told that they can’t do it on work time (which is someone else’s time, not theirs) and if they do there will be consequences.

    And the more they resist, the more the owners will have to bear down because the owners get it while the players don’t. Their “rights” are infringing on the business of the NFL and in turn on the monies that can be used to pay their salaries.

    Whether they are right or wrong, if the clientele think that it is wrong then their ability to do it is limited.

  20. If I’m getting this right, this protest is against the police so that would mean police as a group are being stereotyped by others and this is being supported by the NFL, the mainstream media, and Hollywood “elites”? I’m not sure we want to continue to go down the road of stereotyping any group of people or profession. Very dangerous can of worms to keep open. I think we can all agree on that one.

  21. The players are fighting for the right to drive all of the fans away from the NFL.

    Nobody ever claimed they were particularly smart.

  22. There are two ways to interpret these protests – the way the protester intends to get their message across and the manner in which they are received. Unfortunately for the NFL, only the latter matters to their bottom line.

    It is akin to someone making a sexist or racially insensitive comment. Sure, maybe they didn’t mean it for it to be taken in a certain wauy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that people hearing it won’t be offended.

  23. charliecharger says:

    De Smith needs to make sure every Cowboy either sits or takes a knee during the anthem. Call Jerry Jones’ bluff.
    =========================================================

    So they could risk getting fired by the guy who pays them and would assuredly lose almost all of their fans. Great idea!

  24. Typical lawyer lying. Playing games with the National anthem isn’t disrespecting the National anthem? Guess up is down too huh?

  25. Sorry, Mr. Smith, but you don’t get to make that determination. I get to interrupt people kneeling for the national anthem, you don’t own me and you don’t own fans.

  26. I guess it makes sense most people in the US don’t care about police brutality or the over policing of low income and minority populations because they aren’t directly impacted by either. Funny though, that the very same people are extremely offended by protests that have literally no impact on their personal lives. Weird.

  27. “No player is disrespecting our Country or our Flag.”

    dukeearl says:
    October 9, 2017 at 11:54 am
    Whether it is disrespectful or not will always be an opinion rather than a fact…
    ___________________________________________________________

    Anyone sitting is without question being disrespectful.

  28. I hope the salary cap DECREASES next year. Maybe then the players will get the message that consumers think they are, in fact, disrespecting our veterans and those who have died, and while the message they are TRYING to send may be just, this is not the platform for it!

  29. The NFL Game Operations Manual states that players “should stand for the anthem” and prescribes penalties for a violation of that directive. How can you say owners “have no power” on this issue? They also have power as “employers.” The NFL fines players all the time for speech the NFL disagrees with — for example, criticizing referees, criticizing Michael Sam, wearing messages on shoes, etc. Every employer in America, through their status as an employer, can enforce rules on dress and speech. Try working for UPS and wearing a MAGA hat to deliver packages.

  30. factschecker says:

    October 9, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Unless you are at the game, you have to go out of your way to see the protest on your TV. I have yet to see a single anthem on TV this year. I don’t think I saw any last year either.
    ==================

    I recommend you open your eyes when you watch the game. After the anthem protests became a big thing last year, they stopped showing anything anthem related. Then, President Trump made his SOB speech, and every anthem from every game was televised that weekend. So if you didn’t see a single anthem this year, you must not be much of a fan

  31. Protesting America is protesting the people that made America what it is, the people who worked hard day in, day out to make America a great country. These players do not want to be a part of that, they want to insult Americans that worked hard in favor of Americans that can’t follow an officer’s orders when they’re in trouble with the law. That’s their choice, my choice is to not spend my time or money subsidizing their lifestyle.

  32. two things to watch. Jerry Jones approach could spread – even expand. Stand or sit – and if you sit you will miss not just that game but be inactive for the following week.

    There is a small – but growing movement to boycott the games around veterans day – both don’t watch – but also don’t attend

  33. Hey De Smith, it does not take courage to stick it to the Anthem or the American Flag.

    It takes courage to take a Rifle, get shot at, and try to get rid of bad guys in dangerous places in the World. That takes courage.

  34. The league needs a work stoppage. Weird people are taking this tv show way too serious. When the typical person goes to work, do they stand for the national anthem every morning?! Do these Weird fans stand for the national anthem when the tv show is on in their homes?! Cut it out already.

  35. tebowislife says:

    October 9, 2017 at 11:54 am

    The NFL’s problem will magically be solved when the Dotard in Chief is removed from office. Until then players will continue to kneel.
    ____________________

    Thank you forclearing that up… I was confused on this weeks protest.

  36. So no players are disrespecting the country or flag, but Pence is disrespecting the Colts and Manning? Double standard much?

  37. This message board is making me lose faith in humanity. Man you guys are terrible human beings if you are genuinely bothered by people just trying to make things better regardless of whether or not you agree with how they protest. By the way I never thought kneeling for the anthem was the right way to go about things too but the vitriol towards these players makes me think my original position was wrong. You realize how socialist/Nazi’ish you sound?

  38. I’m really starting to think a lot of PFT posters are ill educated. These players are protesting social injustices and inequalities and a lot of you choose to believe different. Go take a look in the mirror and look deeper than your skin.

  39. “the league wants to have the ability to tell players to stand for the anthem, the league needs to be ready to give the players something significant in return. And the harder the owners try to clamor for an outcome they currently don’t have the power to engineer, the bigger the concession should be”

    LMAO at this statement….is a JOB in the NFL enough of a concession? Who fronts the bill for the NFL office, owners, players and networks? Hint…who pays the green to make all this happen? Even if 30% of people stop spendong and watching, The NFL will have a huge restructure and possible collapse.

  40. This guy is a complete joke. The constitutional right(s) to which he refers guard against state action. The NFL and its teams are not the state. The players first amendment protections do NOT apply. How does he keep his job?

  41. Sorry, Mr. Smith…if a guy is not standing at attention, with his hand over his heart, He’s disrespecting my country, my flag and my military, particularly for my buddies that are still over there. There is no two ways about it, no “alternative facts”, it’s disrespectful….Period….

  42. It’s kind of like when a person says, “with all due respect” then lays out a whole bunch of smack talk. The players are basically saying with all due respect then sitting or kneeling. It still doesn’t make it right or OK.

  43. Send these “Sitters” home without a game check for that week.
    If they do it again, make it 2.
    AND do not ever give them those cks.
    Fines at the team level are nothing new in the NFL.

    The union may moan and gran and sue, but I think the billionaire owners can come with a a much more powerful team of flesh eating lawyers than the players can.

  44. Saying this doesn’t disrespect country or flag is like
    1) attending a funeral;
    2) spitting on the coffin; and
    3) saying “No disrespect to the deceased. I’m just protesting the wood of the coffin”.

    Take your protest elsewhere & do it on your own time (not your employer’s).

  45. Not standing, Holding hands, Raised fists. All signs of disrespect. The owner should have stopped it last year. Owners have a legal right to stop any behavior that is affecting the team’s reputation. If you can suspend players without due process why the fear of stopping protests on company time?

  46. thermy1 says:
    October 9, 2017 at 4:42 pm
    Not standing, Holding hands, Raised fists. All signs of disrespect. The owner should have stopped it last year. Owners have a legal right to stop any behavior that is affecting the team’s reputation. If you can suspend players without due process why the fear of stopping protests on company time?
    ——————————
    That’s why the NFLPA exists, and unions exist in general. To protect workers rights – a concept that’s apparently lost on you.

  47. De Smith may want to familiarize himself with the words of Colin Kaepernick, originator of the “take a knee” movement: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

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