As the NFL and NFL Players Association negotiation a possible Anthem Policy 3.0, some in league circles realize that, no matter the current solution, the situation never will truly be solved.
“There’s no end game,” a high-level employee with one of the NFL’s teams told PFT over the weekend.
And he’s right. There is no end game, because there’s no way to end the political gamesmanship that accompanies what has become one of the most polarizing issues of our time. If the league and the union carve out any opportunity for protests during the anthem, the President will continue to bang his favorite base drum. If, somehow, management and labor agree that all players will always stand for the anthem with no players protesting under any circumstances, internal and external voices will chastise the NFL for bowing to the President — and the President surely welcome the victory with silence and humility.
Even the possibility of getting rid of the anthem entirely will invite a harsh outcry from those who have become accustomed to consuming sport with a side dish of forced patriotism.
So the issue lasts as long as the current President is in office, right? Fat chance of that. Now that he has shown the potency of this specific platform plank, other politicians of similar ideology will press the same button wherever and whenever it will serve as a useful rallying cry and/or a welcome distraction.
The more likely reality, then, is that the argument over anthem protests has become part of the NFL’s new normal, with no outcome that will conclusively end something that didn’t exist less than two years ago.