Anthem negotiations not likely to solve the league’s problem

Getty Images

The NFL and NFL Players Association had their first major effort to resolve the anthem situation 17 days ago. Despite some initial optimism, as publicly hinted by Steelers owner Art Rooney II, it currently appears that, while there eventually may be a resolution, there still will be no solution.

Peter King reports in his latest Football Morning in America column that, according to one unnamed source, there are doubts that the end result will include all players standing for the anthem. Which gets back to something I was told three weeks ago: There’s no end game for the anthem controversy.

Two weeks ago, some believed maybe there was. Some thought maybe, just maybe, the union, which doesn’t need unanimity to agree to rule changes, would tie the hands of those who would kneel or otherwise protest during the anthem. The problem, however, is that even though the NFL Players Association can get things done with simple majorities, it’s not nearly as simple as having a majority of players or player representatives wipe away rights currently exercised by a very small percentage of the rank and file.

Even if the 99 percent of players who aren’t protesting were to agree on behalf of the 100 percent to stand, some percentage of the one percent would resist, and possibly would continue to protest — creating a situation in which the protests become even more significant and noteworthy.

King makes no bones about blaming the current mess on Commissioner Roger Goodell, and King is right to say, as he does, that on this issue Goodell has failed to lead. But King misses the mark just a bit by suggesting that Goodell should have sprung to action last September to resolve the situation with De Smith, Goodell’s counterpart at the NFLPA.

By last September, it was already too late. Goodell should have engaged Smith the moment former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was spotted sitting during the anthem in August 2016, and Goodell and Smith should have worked out a deal that fixed the loophole the league created.

And that’s where a hostile, cantankerous, belligerent relationship between management and labor can hurt both sides. Because Goodell and Smith don’t enjoy the kind of trust that their respective predecessors, Paul Tagliabue and Gene Upshaw, shared, Goodell and Smith aren’t able to quickly fashion win-win outcomes. Also, given the league’s desire to not just win but crush the opponent during any and all negotiations, Goodell and the league never, ever would have gone to Smith and the union and said, “Um, we have a little problem. Can we work together to solve it before it becomes a big problem?”

If Goodell had engaged Smith two years ago this month, Smith justifiably could have responded by saying, “So, you have a little problem? How did that little problem come to be?”

The honest answer would have been, “Well, we made the problem because someone wrote the policy in a way that created an unintended loophole, requiring players to be on the sideline for the anthem but not requiring them to actually stand for the anthem.” And the candid reply from Smith very well may have been, “That stinks for you.”

The bottom line is that the NFL made this mess by creating the right to protest and then, when a player chose to protest, acknowledged that, indeed, players have the right to protest. Two years later, every headache and hassle relating to the anthem flows from the league’s failures in that regard, and it seems that the issue long ago made it past the point of no return.

90 responses to “Anthem negotiations not likely to solve the league’s problem

  1. “Goodell should have engaged Smith the moment former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was spotted sitting during the anthem in August 2016”

    In other words…..when Kaep was benched.

  2. They have the right to protest?
    This is a right?

    We fans, you know, the ones who are paying their salary, have a right to walk away.

  3. There is a quick easy solution.. Teams stay in the locker rooms or the tunnel until after the anthem..

    Now, can we just get back to football and end all this political nonsense !!!!

  4. derekgorgonstar says:
    August 13, 2018 at 9:55 am
    They have the right to protest?
    This is a right?

    We fans, you know, the ones who are paying their salary, have a right to walk away.

    ————————
    Not a right you are correct, but they do have permission from their employer so the workplace rules argument, while valid, currently works in favor of the protesters.

  5. “Both sides are equally at fault.
    Both sides lack good leadership.”
    _______________

    The protesters goal is to not conform and to get attention. They’re succeeding at both those things without needing any real leadership. The NFL’s goal is to avoid bad press, force guys to conform and/or eliminate the point of contention (like by keeping everybody in the locker rooms until the anthem is over). They are failing spectacularly.

  6. As long as the owners think that the decline in viewership is caused by the players protesting, they will try to stop the protests. What they should do instead is to hire some experts and figure out why there is a drop in viewership. That would be a lot more productive.

  7. As noted, the proper action was a quick and decisive action two years ago.

    Failing that, the proper action today is a quick and decisive action now.

    No player ever had the “right” to protest by kneeling during the anthem – there simply wasn’t a penalty for it.

    Institute an increasing financial/suspension penalty based on the number of times a player fails to properly stand for the anthem – i.e. $25,000 first offense, $250,000 second offense, 4 game suspension third offense and 12 month suspension for each and every offense thereafter.

    Problem solved.

  8. This seems like cake – play the anthem for the crowd, THEN players come out. Trump will cry, but it will blow over and then be a memory.

  9. omeletpants says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:07 am
    No job in America where you can protest on your employer’s time at your employer’s location

    ————————-
    You can where the employer has chosen to permit it. In this case the NFL (through its owners) has chosen to let them at this time.

  10. omeletpants says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:07 am
    No job in America where you can protest on your employer’s time at your employer’s location
    ————————————
    Also no job other than the military where they require you to stand for the anthem before going to work

  11. I think there is a way to stop it. The public should stop commenting and reacting to the “anthem protest” related stories. The media publishes these articles because it knows they will get a lot of reaction and debate. Once the reactions cease, media will stop writing these daily articles. Once there are no more stories, the players will slowly stop the protests given they no longer receive attention.

  12. The best part about this whole mess is that people think they are supporting Kaepernick by kneeling and Kaepernick himself was just too uninterested to stand or take his football career seriously. Dude said he was pushing for changes and then didn’t even vote? He put his money where his mouth was after being called out on it, but my gut says he really doesn’t care all that much about the issue.

  13. This is so stupid. A multi-billion dollar business, a casper milque toast commisioner making 40 million per year…stand or get cut…very simple. What owner/gm will save the league from itself & end this stupidity?

  14. Just curious. Did anyone see any protesting on their tv screens this past week? I watched as much football as possible and I dont think I saw it even once. Heard about it, but never actually saw it.

  15. Remember when the league met with Malcolm Jenkins and many other players and put programs into place to address their concerns, including a bunch of money? They players were said to be happy. Yet Malcolm Jenkins is still not happy so where does it end. The NFL should just ignore these clowns and let them go away. If the media stopped focusing on them it would help too. Maybe Goodell should finally lead and tell the media to stop focusing on it because if it hurts ratings it also hurt those who broadcast the games.

  16. The highest paid commissioner in all of professional sports can’t resolve this simple problem. Because he doesn’t have the ball$.

    Players are required to stand in other sports.

    Goodell is overpaid and a total fraud.

    Fire the bum.

  17. Why wasn’t Colin kneeling when he was the starting qb. Were there no social injustice happening until he got benched because of inferior qb play.

  18. omeletpants says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:07 am
    No job in America where you can protest on your employer’s time at your employer’s location
    ———-
    Except for the 200 million Americans that protesting while at work via the internet hidden with an anonymous screen name on message boards across the country Monday through Friday.

    What you are doing right now is what you are saying “nobody anywhere” is allowed to do.

  19. fobsessed20 says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:18 am
    I think there is a way to stop it. The public should stop commenting and reacting to the “anthem protest” related stories. The media publishes these articles because it knows they will get a lot of reaction and debate. Once the reactions cease, media will stop writing these daily articles. Once there are no more stories, the players will slowly stop the protests given they no longer receive attention.

    —————————-
    Im pretty sure the league has already stopped any TV coverage of it (I didnt see any) so you are right that these articles and comments are the only place it lives on.

  20. The rest of the League should have listened to Jerry Jones when he wanted to pump the brakes on renewing Roger’s contract.

    Wait until the media contracts are up and they have to renegotiate and the salary cap drops. That’s when the rubber meets the road.

    Fire Roger! Soon!

  21. Anyone see what police officers had to endure over the weekend ,spit at, cursed at ,shot at ,and none of these kneelers say a word in support of our men and woman who serve in blue !

  22. footballpat says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:18 am
    omeletpants says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:07 am
    No job in America where you can protest on your employer’s time at your employer’s location
    ————————————
    Also no job other than the military where they require you to stand for the anthem before going to work

    ————————-
    Military does not require it before reporting to work. Its only required at ceremonies. (Taps does sound on every base every day and people stop and stand, they do not play the anthem and have everyone turn out to stand when they raise it so its only those that are present that do). The military members are bound by the UCMJ so for them it is indeed an actual law. But the families and civilian personell are not bound by any requirement, yet they do all still do it.

  23. .
    Unless Smith has a brain injury, it’s unlikely that he has forgotten the lying Goodell, Pash, Gardi, Blandino, Vincent, Kensil, Henderson and their minions told during the framegate affair. Why would Smith trust anyone who works at 345 Park Avenue?
    .

  24. You know, since Trump has become really patriotic since becoming a politician, I wonder why he doesn’t have the National Anthem played at his private businesses at the start of each work day and require the workers to stand for it?

  25. footballpat says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:18 am
    omeletpants says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:07 am
    No job in America where you can protest on your employer’s time at your employer’s location
    ————————————
    Also no job other than the military where they require you to stand for the anthem before going to work
    _____________
    What a huge price pay to make millions to play a game for 3 hours 16 times a year.
    Poor Snowflakes.

  26. footballpat says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:17 am
    The Brits have the solution they only play the anthem at events involving the national team
    —————————-
    Aye, I worked in England for 2 decades. They also play it at domestic cup finals. Basically most pro sports started in the UK, and all the oldest international ones too (via the Empire), and that’s where the tradition of playing “God Save the King” (or Queen) at sports comes from – they played it any event deemed important enough to be graced by the King or Queen (or close royal member acting as their deputy) – hence at cup finals and internationals.

  27. Let’s get to the real truth here. trump is pushing this because it feeds his base’s bloodlust. it’s also a way for him to try and get even with the NFL for not letting his failing USFL into the league. Leave the players alone. This protest has nothing to do with patriotism. It has everything to do with how people are treated because of their color.

  28. How about just telling the TV networks to only broadcast the military servicemen, crowd and coaches that are standing?

  29. It is not a protest or even an SJW gesture. The players are simply look-at-me gesticulating. Players that act on their concerns work in the community and build a cache of goodwill; and do it so that the recipients get the attention for overcoming, not the player. Sports is boring to those covering it. This drama between players and fans is much more interesting to them so its eclipsing traditional coverage. But this ‘protesting’ is quickly becoming a comedy of B and C List actor/players tripping on the field when no one else is around, like the old NFL Films follies.

  30. Last November the NFL pledged 100 million dollars to “social justice” issues. Since the protesters have completely ignored it then league should retract it.

  31. footballpat says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:18 am
    omeletpants says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:07 am
    No job in America where you can protest on your employer’s time at your employer’s location
    ————————————
    Also no job other than the military where they require you to stand for the anthem before going to work
    ===========================================================

    I guess you’re unaware of the NBA rule.

  32. Love how all blame is on the league, these players deserve some fingers pointed at as well. This league with these players with the off field actions and demonstration all over the place on what exactly they cry about yet do not go out and do anything about. The game is not important to any of these players just how they get their mugs on camera. We place these players way high on a shelf than they deserve. Time the owners stick together and get rid of the players that is tearing the game we love apart.

  33. As a first step, the owners should announce the end of the $90 million Social Justice fund. They gave that money to the players so they could engage in activities that would make a difference in the community. Something that could never be said of kneeling.

  34. Coupon Email says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:50 am
    How about just telling the TV networks to only broadcast the military servicemen, crowd and coaches that are standing?

    ——————
    I suspect that has already happened starting this year.

  35. No need to worry…… The LEAGUE will just FABRICATE ANOTHER PATRIOTS SCANDLE that the Media & fanbases of every other team will eat up & everything else the LEAGUE HAS SCREWED UP will once again be ignored & become irrelevant….. SMOKE & MIRRORS are proven to have worked so why would the NFL change their approach???

  36. GenXJ says:
    August 13, 2018 at 9:53 am
    What were the anthem protesters doing in the off-season to contribute to their supposed cause.

    The fact that you don’t know the answer to this is exactly why they use this public forum to protest.

  37. stillabengalsfan says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:07 am
    Just ignore them. Putting your hand in the air, or taking a knee, has about as much positive effect as standing in traffic. It solves and changes absolutely nothing.

    ——————-
    A lot can change very suddenly if you stand in traffic.

  38. there are only 2 things that would stop a player from protesting
    1) immediate termination with player paying back any pro-rated portion of signing bonus OR
    2) peer pressure

  39. the protesting players are becoming the face of the league which is kind of ironic when you consider how the league demonized Tom Brady who should be the face of the league

  40. Wasn’t even an issue until 2009 when the NFL took money from the government to have patriotic displays before games. Just go back to the locker room like before and lets play ball.

  41. footballpat says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:17 am
    The Brits have the solution they only play the anthem at events involving the national team
    ============================================
    I was sounding like a broken record on the PFT:
    “Play the National Anthem when the National Teams are playing, not when the Browns play the Colts.”
    Majority here disagree for some unknown (to me) reason. I would like to see a response

  42. What problem??? Either come and stand or stand in the locker room like you were told. Don’t stand and get fined. Seems pretty cut and dry.

  43. Coffeehog says:
    August 13, 2018 at 11:06 am

    stillabengalsfan says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:07 am
    Just ignore them. Putting your hand in the air, or taking a knee, has about as much positive effect as standing in traffic. It solves and changes absolutely nothing.

    ——————-
    A lot can change very suddenly if you stand in traffic.

    —-

    lol, i did say positive… no one likes their car dented.

  44. Owners should just go around the union and go directly to coaches and demand that any player that does not stand will not play. Don’t have to suspend them, just don’t play them. Then let the other 43 – 45 players deal with the 1 or 2 players who want to punish impact the team because they want to want to kneel instead.

    After the game, let those players who decided to sit out the game explain to their fans and team mates for 1.3 minutes (which is the average length of time it takes to play the National Anthem) why they would rather sit and protest than play.

  45. I know…., let’s just keep bringing it up at EVERY CHANCE WE GET!!!!! Sure nobody wants to hear about these players or what it is they PERCEIVE & believe they are protesting…. who cares what the public wants….. let’s just keep writing about it & showing these clowns on TV & have the game announcers comment on it……let’s just keep it a focal point of every game & down time to get hits…….again , who cares about what the public wants!!!!

  46. If only Kaep could have beat out Blaine Ganbert….

    Oh well, now that pandora’s Box has been opened, how about the NFL begins each game with a 2 minute “protest” time? All players will be free to protest whatever the heck they want. The current “look-at-me” guys can confident to protest police brutality….some other guys can stage a protest for better treatment of animals…..some guys can protest how women are treated under Sharia law……whatever they want. Let’s let everyone in on this thing.

  47. Those who are still protesting the anthem are doing so for they aren’t play worthy of it. It’s all about the individual now and the cause has long been distinguished by the self aggrandizing.

  48. America was formed by a bunch of protestors. You don’t
    like it, leave. but, before you go, take a history lesson and shut your mouths.

  49. I know…., let’s just keep bringing it up at EVERY CHANCE WE GET!!!!! Sure nobody wants to hear about these players or what it is they PERCEIVE & believe they are protesting…. who cares what the public wants….. let’s just keep writing about it & showing these clowns on TV & have the game announcers comment on it……let’s just keep it a focal point of every game & down time to get hits…….again , who cares about what the public wants!!!!

    2 0 Rate This

    I would rather listen to the anthem story than listen to CryBabyNation whine about perceived bias of the league office against the Ne Cheetahs.

  50. Congrats fool/drool….. you’ll be getting exactly what you want…. enjoy it to the fullest……

  51. Anthem negotiations not likely to solve the league’s problem
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The headline is correct. The analysis isn’t. The league’s problem is not the anthem controversy. The league’s problem is trying to fix a divisive issue by trying to please all sides. In other words, the league’s problem is its own leadership. They should have made it clear from the beginning that the protests were inappropriate. There was already a policy preventing personal messages when visible before the game when this mess started. They chose to not enforce it because they didn’t want backlash from the anarchists or freedom of speech brigade. Now, the union and analysts claim that enforcing the established policy as already written constitutes some sort of change requiring their concurrence. If anything the league’s stance gave the player additional options. The policy says to stand on the sideline. The “new” stance was to allow players to stay off the sidelines during the anthem if they so choose.

    The league’s teams are the employer and the players are the employees. All companies can limit behavior/speech/expression of their employees while the employees are on the clock, wearing the uniform of and directly representing the company (team/league in this case). They can say when you should be there and what you should do as well as what you can say or do. We all live under these principles. All the league had to do was say kneeling/fist raising/sitting/etc during the anthem is unacceptable and then follow through with the consequences that have already been established and agreed upon. That’s it. Some will complain but “How dare you treat players like any other employee in any other business…” can only go so far before dying down back to normal. What they did was to kick the can down the road and keep it in the spotlight. That was either monumentally stupid or it was by design. If it is the latter then we ALL are getting played.

  52. It’s easy, either every person participates or remove it. They had to remove the pledge of allegiance from schools. The intent is to honor and pay respects. Not everyone does.

  53. Michael E says:
    August 13, 2018 at 10:54 am
    Last November the NFL pledged 100 million dollars to “social justice” issues. Since the protesters have completely ignored it then league should retract it.

    —————————
    No, they should have the Police unions provide representatives to work together on how to apply it. The players had their shot and didnt so maybe the cops will care enough to put in the time.

  54. I don’t see anywhere in the post that says what the actual solution would be. Absent that, it doesn’t matter even if Smith and Goodell had a great relationship and worked together as soon as it started 2 years ago.

  55. This is a big problem with unions. A minority of players are in effect causing big problems for the rest. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong who has rights. Obviously this issue is driving away customers and that is a huge problem not only for the owners but for the players union who when collectively bargaining are going to find there slice pie shrink as the pie shrinks.

  56. The Anthem controversy is a media creation, not a real issue. According to new PFT reporter Peter King: “So maybe 13 out of 2880 (about one-half of 1 percent) did not stand at attention for the anthem.” When did 1/2 of 1% ever indicate a widespread issue. All the NFL has to do is sit with the tv executives and have their cameramen stop showing protesters on camera during the Anthem. Problem solved and we’re back to football.

  57. tball25 says:

    August 13, 2018 at 11:51 am

    America was formed by a bunch of protestors. You don’t
    like it, leave. but, before you go, take a history lesson and shut your mouths.
    ———————
    Wrong. You don’t protest on the clock especially if it drives customers away! Bottom line is $$$$$. You can leave now!

  58. No anthem. No issue.

    Players have only been standing on the sidelines for the playing of the anthem since 2009 – so this will be the 10th year – out of the 97 year existence of the NFL.

  59. Zzzzzzzzz, this topic is so painfully boring, these dopes accomplish nothing other than to stir up racial division needlessly.

    It’s a real simple solution, act like the NBA, I don’t see any of the leftist talking heads bashing the NBA for making their players stand in respect, why is that?

  60. Simple answer to the whole issue is to stop giving the protestors coverage. The networks don’t have to show them, and the rest of the media don’t have to mention it. We all know it’s going on, no need to beat it to death. If they stop getting the attention they are looking for, perhaps they will find another constructive way to make a difference that doesn’t include insulting those who feel as though they should stand.

  61. All you people who think by not playing the anthem, issue solved. Sorry, but some of these players will protest again on the field. Maybe a TD celebration or prior to kick off a bunch of idiots on the Eagles will run downfield with their fist in the air…

  62. Just get rid of the anthem.

    At some point a segment of fans are going to be joining the players and that’s when the “real fun” will start.

    Should be interesting.

    But hey, couldn’t be that that establishment wants or needs such social unrest to justify its continued presence on the matter, could it now.

  63. Among this, the new helmet rule which essentially give refs the ability to determine the outcome of games, and the litany of a bastion of rules that have turned NFL games into something akin to legal proceedings, my interest in NFL football is casual at best having waned over the last decade or so from avid. If not for interest in a handful of individual players, on varying teams, and with certain collegiate backgrounds, I woudln’t be watching at all.

    NCAA football can’t start soon enough.

  64. Roger does not know anything about building trust among players and owners. He is simply a Million dollar a Week Drama Queen.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!