As the NFL hopes to find one way to persuade all players to choose to stand for the national anthem, the league may now be dealing with two different groups of players.
Dolphins safety Michael Thomas and 49ers safety Eric Reid have announced their split from the Players Coalition, a group organized by Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins and former NFL receiver Anquan Boldin.
Both Thomas and Reid posted the same message on Twitter: “With much thought and consideration, I’ve decided to officially withdraw my involvement in The Players Coalition founded by Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin. The Players Coalition was supposed to be formed as a group that represents NFL Athletes who have been silently protesting social injustices and racism. However, Malcolm and Anquan can no longer speak on our behalf as we don’t believe the coalition’s beliefs are in our best interests as a whole. We will continue to have dialogue with the league to find equitable solutions but without Malcolm and Anquan as our representatives.”
This necessarily means that the league will now have to finesse a pair of groups, whose agendas and objectives apparently do not mesh.
As of last week, the league and the players were, per a source with knowledge of the situation, close to finalizing plans for creating true social justice initiatives that would, presumably, end the protests during the national anthem. Those plans may now have to be revised to account for the involvement of at least two players groups.
The league wants the protests to end, but the league will not force players to stand for the national anthem. The posture gives the players considerable power, and the players could (if they choose) use that power to leverage something meaningful from the NFL.
It’s possible that the players disagree on how to properly do that. On one hand, power is power and it should be leveraged for better employment terms. On the other hand, the power in this case comes from an important principle that shouldn’t be undermined by treating it like any other bargaining chip.
Regardless, the situation seems to be no closer to ending.