We have heard plenty of people weigh in on Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the National Anthem, and now we have the NFL Commissioner. NFL PR issued a statement after the 49ers-Packers game saying standing was encouraged by not required. On Wednesday, Roger Goodell told the media that he disagrees with Kaepenick’s choice to kneel, but acknowledges his right to protest.
We’ve heard plenty of people talk about accepting the right to protest, but disagreeing with the method. Goodell offered up a line that is kind of rich:
“I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don't live in a perfect society. We live in an imperfect society. On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that. I think it's important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement, and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.”
Professional sports across the board believe “very strongly” in patriotism, although it is baseball and football that push that narrative most frequently. The NFL got into some hot water over the notion of “paid patriotism.” The league and teams are allowed to make money as they see fit, but the patriotism push sometimes seems a little fake, and mostly just pressing the buttons that they know will make them look good. It’s hard to take the NFL seriously on the issue of patriotism.
This will get a little more interesting over the weekend with the start of the 2016 regular season. We might see players on the Panthers or Broncos take a knee on Thursday, but real story will be if players do so on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of 9/11. I imagine teams will be pushing the 15th anniversary of 9/11 pretty hard on Sunday. The question is whether or not we’ll see players taking a knee on a day that has had even more patriotism attached. The Seattle Seahawks host the Miami Dolphins Sunday afternoon. Cornerback Jeremy Lane sat down last Thursday in the preseason finale, and has said he will continue to join Colin Kaepernick in protest. Will we see other players in protest on Sunday?