The NFL and the players who have been leading the effort to take to the NFL about the anthem controversy have reached a deal. But it’s not really a deal, which is probably the best news for the players.
And the worst news for the NFL.
The league, which remains petrified by the power that the players have discovered, has agreed to contribute less than $90 million over seven years to a variety of causes and programs that sparked the decision to protest during the national anthem. For its open-ended contribution, which is still subject to approval by all owners (and which may not happen until March), the league gets nothing.
The fact that the league would expect nothing in return for the cash commitment underscores the lingering fear that flows from the design flaw that the league incorporated in to the 2009 policy that requires players to come to the sideline for the national anthem, but that does not require them to stand. Then again, how much can the league really expect for payment that works out to roughly $400,000 per team per year?
And so the end result is a modest cash infusion in exchange for a sense of hope — hope that players will believe the league is showing enough respect for issues that gave rise to the protests to get the players to choose to stop the protests. It’s a temporary fix at best, which hardly slams the door on further protests (especially with the Players Coalition now fractured) and, in turn, on further attacks from the primary resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
For now, as the approval of the payments is pending, the league will want to see little or no kneeling for the rest of the regular season, for all of the postseason, and specifically during the Super Bowl.