NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke for the owners and the league on Wednesday when he announced leagues new National Anthem Policy, President Donald Trump spoke for well that would be Donald Trump when he commented on the NFL’s policy on Thursday and you knew it was only going to be a matter of time before the NFL players had their say.
The Commish started the boondoggle with the NFL’s stance on players taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem.
The new rule changes approved at the owners Spring League Meeting specified that players who don’t want to stand during the anthem will be allowed to stay off the field. Individual clubs have the power to set their own policies to ensure the anthem is being respected during any on-field action. If a player chooses to protest on the field during the anthem, the NFL will fine the team. In addition, franchises have the ability to potentially fine players.
On Thursday President Donald Trump gave his stamp of approval to the NFL’s new policy while appearing on a Fox News segment.
“I think that’s good,” Trump said about the policy during a Thursday appearance on Fox News. “I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms but still I think it’s good, you have to stand proudly for the national anthem. Or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem and the NFL owners did the right thing if that’s what they’ve done.”
And so began the player’s opinions to the new rule. The Seattle Seahawks were on the field taking part in day three of the teams organized team actvities. After the session head coach Pete Carroll, Wider receiver Doug Baldwin and quarterback Russell Wilson spoke on the NFL’s adopted National Anthem Policy.
(On the new National Anthem Policy) “Well, I think it’s obviously another illustration of our polarizing times. There’s no clear-cut agreement on how this fits. There’s going to be a lot of discourse. There’s going to be a lot coming up here. From the inside of it, we were in process of figuring this out and how to put it together. We’ve lived through it right here with the men in the locker room and we were making, I think, real progress.
I think this illustration of new statement of what it’s going to be and all that is going to have an effect and we’re going to have to deal with that. I was kind of liking the way it was going and so now it’s kind of taken out of the control from the coach and the players and the locker room to a certain extent, so we’re going to have to deal with that. In time, we’ll figure it out. We’re going to be together on whatever we do and how we handle this, and we’ll do our talking.
Carroll went on to talk about how the conversation on positive change in society is not just for players, coaches and owners and that a lot of great work aimed at making positive societal change gets lost in the divisiveness of the conversations.
“I would like to say that this game of football has been something that not just the players and the coaches have loved, but our fans have loved. It’s an extraordinary institution in our country and it’s fun and we look forward to it and we escape by it and we’re all in that together. This conversation that is so crucial – it’s such a crucial discussion and conversation for us in our country that gets into our football and our fans and all of the fun of it – I think is unfortunate, that it’s distracting from that. The work, the dedication and the commitment by all the young people that want to make change and want to make a better life for our friends and our families and the people in this country is absolutely at hand and it’s happening.
You just listened to Doug (Baldwin) and to Russell (Wilson) and you hear how intently these guys are involved with the messaging and the work they’re doing and the extraordinary stuff that our guys have done in the communities and will continue to set pace for creating the changes that are the right things to happen. Unfortunately, in all of this, it kind of gets muddled and lost and it gets polarized, and that’s unfortunate.
For Baldwin who’s father is an ex-police officer was clear that the demonstrations were about the need for social change to prevent loss of life and create equality in all communities.
“The demonstrations, reason why we were even having the conversation we were having was that there was a loss of life,” Baldwin said. “It was never about disrespecting the flag or our military or anything in our regard. It was about the loss of life that was happening in a particular community, there was frustration and enough was enough, and athletes and celebrities who have a platform to speak up for those who don’t have a platform wanted to use that platform to do just that.”
While he spoke of respecting the President as a human being Baldwin was very critical of the Presidents comments regarding the policy and went as far as calling him an idiot.
“For him to say that anybody who doesn’t follow his viewpoints or his constituents’ viewpoints should be kicked out of the country, it’s not very empathetic,” Baldwin said. “It’s not very American-like, actually, to me. It’s not very patriotic. It’s not what this country was founded upon. It’s kind of ironic to me that the President of the United States is contradicting what our country is really built on.”
Baldwin has been active in his fight for social change. Last year Baldwin announced his support for Initiative Measure No. 940. A that would require law enforcement to receive violence de-escalation, mental-health, and first-aid training, and provide first-aid; and change standards for use of deadly force, adding a “good faith” standard and independent investigation. The measure surpassed the required 259,000 signatures to make it on the November 2018 ballot.
For Wilson, the conversation should be about the stopping the violence and shooting in American society rather than the National anthem.
“To me, it’s all about love, but the problem is, I think we’re focused on the wrong things,” Wilson said. “No (anthem) policy is going to fix the problems that we have in America right now, it’s not going to fix the shootings that are happening, it’s not going to fix all the racial tension, a policy on the national anthem. I think we’re getting distracted a little bit about what that means. I have family that has served, and Ciara’s dad, so I respect the military and what that means and the freedom of that and what they give us, but at the same time, we need to be focused on how we can help.
How can we help our communities, how can we help our high schools, how can we help the African American community? There’s so much going on that a simple policy of who’s standing up and who’s not, and honestly being a little bit nitpicky—it’s tough, because I don’t know if that’s the right answer. Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. To me, we need to continue to try to find ways to heal, continue to find ways to help our communities, and until we do that, we’re hurting ourselves. That’s what we should be talking about more.
That’s what we’re not talking about enough—how do we make this world a better place, how do we make it safer for our kids, how do we make our school communities better, how do we help the inner-city communities? Those should be the leading conversations.”