Bears Chairman George McCaskey stuck to the party line, saying he agreed with the NFL’s policy that all players on the field should stand for the national anthem.
But he also clearly has been listening to the concerns of players (and/or reading Malcolm Jenkins‘ signs) that the original intent of players who took a knee during the anthem have been misconstrued.
“The first players to take a knee during the national anthem did so to bring attention to two issues — police misconduct and social inequality,” McCaskey said, via J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago. “There are legitimate issues that deserve discussion and action. As a country, we can do better. It’s part of the founding fathers’ charge to us to form a more perfect union. Commissioner [Roger] Goodell said it very well, and it bears repeating — it was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.
“The players’ actions were characterized by some and perceived by some as disrespectful to the flag, our country and our military, and what should be a unifying moment for our communities and our country has become in some instances another source of divisiveness.”
That divisiveness might not have been created by President Donald Trump, but he was certainly willing to stoke the flames for political advantage. When the NFL tried to appease him with their recent change, it backfired terribly, leaving the teams to clean up their own mess. But McCaskey denied that Trump influenced the policy.
“What the President was doing or not doing, or thinking or not thinking, or saying and not thinking didn’t really impact our support of this,” he said.
(Sure, and the Eagles just decided they’d rather practice an extra day this week.)
McCaskey said he’s met with team president Ted Phillips and Bears union rep Sam Acho about the matter, and they’ve still discussing potential discipline (or whether they’d discipline) for violating the policy.
“I think we continue the dialogue,” McCaskey said, “and listen to each other.”
While it’s a little late now, it’s at least a good start.