Jerry Jones isn’t the only NFL owner who is trying to thread a narrow needle when it comes to kneeling during the national anthem.
Giants co-owner John Mara said this in a videoconference with reporters on Thursday, via Bob Glauber of Newday: “My preference is that everybody stand, but if you decide in your conscience that you think taking a knee is the right thing to do, I’m going to support your right to do that.”
The better position, frankly, would be for Mara to simply say that his preference is for players to do whatever they think is right, without expressing a preference that players stand. Once the guy who runs the billion-dollar organization makes his preference known, that becomes a factor in the decisions that players make. Any who are on the fence about what to do will be more inclined to stand, since they know that’s what the boss wants to see.
It’s another reason why the NFL needs to provide clear talking points to all teams on this issue, and to tell them that any deviation from the approved script will get them fined. If that’s something the league can threaten when it comes to, for example, criticism of the decision to proceed with the draft or public commentary on the status of collective bargaining efforts with the union, it’s something the league can do in order to ensure that the repeated statements of unconditional support for protesting players from Commissioner Roger Goodell are the exception not the rule.