The NFL’s owners seem to have grown weary with the anthem controversy and its persistent threat to their business interests. And so the signs are pointing to the NFL’s owners telling players to stand for the anthem.
That could backfire.
“I think we’ve seen even over the last year that you can take a player out of the league, you can threaten to do whatever you want to do, that’s not going to deter players from doing what’s right, or doing what they believe is right,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said Tuesday, via Tim McManus of ESPN.com. “You might be able to change the manner in which that looks but I don’t see players stopping their pursuit for justice or equality.”
The league apparently will be trying to change “the manner in which that looks” by giving them an alternative platform for bringing attention to their concerns. The question becomes whether the players will accept an involuntary adjustment to the format for their voluntary protests.
“The position of the players is that we’re going to continue to do the work that we’ve been doing, we’re going to continue to use our platforms as we have been over the last year to drive awareness to injustices in our country,” Jenkins said. “Now what the NFL decides to do is kind of on them. There has been open dialogue between players and different ownership; there has been dialogue between players and Commissioner Goodell.
“But at the end of the day, you’ve also had these individual owners come out and take these strong stances, and some owners take stances behind closed doors. But from a player’s standpoint, that doesn’t change what we do or how we go about our business. Whether they want to assist us or deter us is on them.”
The owners clearly want to assist the players. But, ultimately, the owners will be dictating the terms of that assistance. And the owners will be guessing that players who will never give up the cash they’re currently getting in order to make more cash via a strike will never give up the cash they’re currently getting in order to make a point.