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NFL players will kneel and you’ll still watch

Four years ago, kneeling during the national anthem was essentially forbidden in the NFL. Like it or not, there will be a ton of players kneeling when the 2020 season begins on Thursday.
Mike McCarn | AP file photo

Get out the smelling salts. Position the fainting couches. The forecast includes plenty of righteous indignation.

When the NFL season starts on Thursday, players will kneel during the national anthem and some people will get the vapors.

We told you two years ago that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was winning his cultural battle with the nattering nabobs of the right. This year marks the unconditional surrender.

By the way, when Nike announced its TV spot, featuring Kaepernick, on Sept. 5, 2018, a share of its stock was $76.65. Despite all the cries that Kaepernick endorsing Nike would be the ruination of the company, and the subsequent burning of the company’s products displayed on YouTube, Nike closed at $112.72 on Tuesday. That’s not too bad of a return, nearly $50 per share.

After George Floyd’s death in May, NFL players essentially spoke out with a powerful message that, indeed, Black Lives Matter. When Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Michael Thomas, Ezekiel Elliott, Tyrann Mathieu, Odell Beckham Jr., et al, put that spot together, it put the league in a spot.

With elite players speaking out, the NFL essentially surrendered when Roger Goodell came out with a video agreeing and saying, “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter.”

If that wasn’t an explicit about-face on Kaepernick, in a later interview, the commissioner said, “Well, the first thing I’d say is I wished we had listened earlier, Kap, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to.”

Four years after Kaepernick was kneeling during the national anthem, and run out of the league for his troubles, the NFL has reversed itself. Let’s remember that the league is a conservative organization, not just politically, but also on the cultural spectrum. Goodell and his ilk do not go to the commode without a plan, and the league has decided that siding with BLM benefits its bottom line.

There will be those who will recoil over players protesting, so let’s go over a few popular anti-kneeling talking points.

  • Kneeling during the anthem is not disrespecting the flag, the military, Mom, America and apple pie. It’s using the flag as a vehicle for social change (in this case, police treatment of people of color). Just as Rosa Parks did not hate buses — she simply didn’t think she had to sit in the back of them by law — NFL players don’t hate America. They simply think that a police officer kneeling on a Black person’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds is wrong. It’s hard to argue with the aforementioned, so people use jingoism to distract from the actual issue.
  • BLM is a “Marxist” organization. That was started by the so-called Prager University, which does not constitute a school or a reliable news source. It’s a right-wing funded organization, which surprisingly enough doesn’t like the BLM movement. The NFL does not align itself with “Marxists” because it likes to mint money, and that’s really an anti-Marxist position.
  • The players are inserting politics into sports, and sports should be a respite from the world. Really? Sports got political a long time ago, be it the Olympics or Jackie Robinson desegregating baseball and so on. For whom did you root during the “Miracle on Ice” game? If like most people outside of the Soviet Union, you were rooting for the U.S., and that was inherently political. You just agreed with the politics in that case.
  • And this one is my favorite — “If the players kneel, I will stop watching the NFL.” That is utter claptrap. Just watch. In 2020 more than ever, this country needs the NFL. Despite all of the likely tweeting from President Donald Trump and protestations from the right, NFL TV ratings will go up this year. Guaranteed.

The world is changing and it is swinging toward tolerance and diversity. Yes, change is scary at times, but probably the best way to deal with it is to crack the beverage of your choosing and enjoy the upcoming football season.


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