According to the rules created by the National Football League, the players who staged anti-National Anthem protests violated the NFL’s operation manual, as they are actually required to be on the field – and respect the flag.
Even though the NFL announced it would not punish the 200 or so players who refused to stand up or appear on the field to honor America and its flag this Sunday, the league’s operation manual states that players must show respect and pay tribute during the anthem.
“During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking,” the NFL rules state, according to WND. “The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.”
Disrespect and breaking the rules seen as good?
The NFL’s response to its players disrespecting the United States flag and National Anthem sends the message that the anti-American tide sweeping gridirons across America every Sunday – and inciting others to do the same – is commendable and does not warrant disciplinary action – even though such resistance violates the NFL’s own rulebook.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned this season and no longer has a job with the NFL, but his obstinate legacy lives on in the league, which has become more about politics than sacks and touchdowns.
“It all started a year ago with now-sidelined quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem before a preseason game,” WND reported. “He explained in the wake of high-profile police shootings, ‘I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.’”
This attitude is catching on in the NFL, especially after President Donald Trump lashed out at NFL anthem protesters refusing to honor their country by calling them disrespectful “sons of [expletive]” who NFL coaches should fire.
“[S]ome 200 NFL players Sunday follow[ed] [Kaepernick’s] lead, mostly in response to criticism by President Trump,” WND’s Bob Unruh recounted. “Some kneeled for the anthem, some stayed in the locker room and a few raised fists.”
But apparently, political grandstanding and breaking rules receives no penalty – or rebuke – in the NFL, which has become ultra-sensitive on politically correct issues over the years.
“An NFL spokesman said Monday that players from the Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers would not be punished for violating a league rule that requires players to be present on the sidelines during the playing of the national anthem,” USA Today announced on Monday.
“There will be no discipline handed down this week for anyone who was not there,” NFL Spokesman Joe Lockhart proclaimed, according to USA Today.
When asked whether the NFL would discipline anti-anthem players in the future – or if the league would alter its pregame sideline policy – he just responded that the issue would continue to be discussed with players.
“The real effort here is to make progress in the community on issues of inequality, and to not get distracted by political attacks or things that don’t help us make progress,” Lockhart stressed, according to USA Today.
A law to themselves?
The anti-American trend of disrespect and refusing to honor the U.S. flag, law enforcement and Armed Forces is now becoming a routine staged event in football stadiums across the country – and abroad (in the NFL’s preseason game in the United Kingdom).
“Those three teams skipped the pregame ritual on Sunday,” USA Today’s Lindsay H. Jones noted. “The Seahawks and Titans stayed in the locker room as a form of protest, while the Steelers did not take the field as a team so players would not have to choose between making a protest statement or displaying patriotism, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said.”
The one player on the Pittsburg Steelers bold enough to not cave in to his team’s staged anti-America protest is now receiving backlash for being the only team member to abide by the NFL’s rules.
“One Steelers player, offensive lineman and Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva, stood at the end of the tunnel during the playing of the anthem before the game in Chicago,” Jones pointed out.
Instead of being commended for standing up for his country and what it stands for as a decorated soldier, Villanueva was blasted for honoring the nation during the anthem by his coach, Mike Tomlin, after his team lost to the Chicago Bears.
“Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation – we were gonna be respectful of our football team,” stressed Tomlin, who claimed that the decision to remain in the locker room was made by the players, according to the Washington Free Beacon. “Many of them felt like something needed to be done. I asked those guys to discuss it and whatever they discussed that we have 100-percent participation – or we do nothing.”
Villanueva’s teammate, Pittsburg Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward would not comment on what determined the decision to stay in the locker room, but he did not blame the Army vet for paying tribute to his country.
“I don’t want to go into that, but we support our guy Al,” Heyward told the Beacon. “He feels he had to do it. This guy served our country, and we thank him for it.”
The NFL will choose your politics …
Apparently, issues on equipment regulations – such as the “Inflategate scandal” involving Super Bowl LI MVP Tom Brady – are a higher priority in the NFL than player conduct on the field.
“[While NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell] infamously waged a years-long, multi-million-dollar battle with the New England Patriots trying to prove that the balls used in the 2014 AFC championship between the Pats and the Indianapolis Colts were under-inflated, [he’s taking a] decidedly less fastidious approach to the rules governing the national anthem,” Gabien.com pointed out in a report, according to WND. “[Instead of applying the rules], Goodell is focusing his anger at President Trump, who said in a speech Friday that the NFL team owners should require their players to stand during the anthem.”
Choosing what statements players can and cannot make has become a routine practice in the NFL.
“The report noted that a year ago, the league prevented the Dallas Cowboys from wearing a decal on their helmets honoring the five police officers killed by a black man who said he had set out to kill as many white officers as he could,” Unruh relayed. “And the league stopped Titans linebacker Avery Williamson from honoring 9/11 victims by wearing cleats that read ‘9-11/01’ and ‘Never Forget.’”
Business interests and religious views are also hot topics that help NFL officials decide what kind of branding and messaging they allow their players to don on and off the field.
“The NFL fined Robert Griffin III $10,000 for wearing a shirt during a press conference that said ‘Operation Patience – the shirt was made by Reebok and the league contract is with Nike,” Unruh added. “Griffin also ran into trouble wearing a shirt that said ‘Know Jesus, Know Peace,’ the report said.”
Copyright American Family News. Reprinted with permission.