Stand for the National Anthem or Sit on the Bench
NFL players, without a doubt, have a constitutional right to opt to kneel during the National Anthem, but owners have finally spoken up.
With Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, leading the way, many other NFL owners are considering making standing during the National Anthem mandatory if players want to see playing time.
Jerry Jones Puts His Foot Down
Leave it up to one of the richest men in professional sports to lead the way in abolishing the "Kneel in Protest" movement by the NFL players.
Jerry Jones has stood firm on his principles. After stating that he understands it is well within a player's right to kneel during the National Anthem, he swiftly quoted "I have the right to say who's on the football field".
If you haven't noticed, no Dallas Cowboys has ever knelt during the National Anthem. This piece of information is now becoming clear to other owners. Are the players that are kneeling willing to give up their position on their football team with the possibility of losing their job?
In an effort to demonstrate that he supports their protest, Jones knelt along with his team before the playing of the national anthem and then stood with the players and locked arms while standing for the national anthem.
The NFL Operations Manual
It looks like the NFL owners are protected in every way by the NFL operations manual which clearly states the guidelines all players should follow during a National Anthem procession.
"The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National 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. 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 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."
A Letter from the Commish
On Tuesday, October 10th, Commissioner Roger Goodell stated "I believe everyone should stand for the national anthem" and wrote a letter to each NFL team, expressing his concerns on the ongoing national anthem protests.
After losing nearly one-third of it's viewers, it is easy to understand why Goodell is worried about the present state and future of the NFL. 32% of Americans are upset enough to totally boycott NFL games. That's enough to make any company refocus it's efforts to satisfy it's customer base.
On the other hand, many fans aren't buying Goodell's good intentions. "Why did it take this long to address this problem", many fans are asking. "So now that you're losing money, it's a problem?"
The Fans Fight Back
Less than 3 days after Jones' initial press release that Cowboy players would stand during the anthem or sit on the bench, a Texas Labor Union has filed a complaint.
Wade Rathke, the representative of the labor union, claims that Jones and the NFL are attempting to break a Texas workplace law that allows workers to cooperatively protest at their workplace.
Note that the NFL operations manual says players "should" stand for the national anthem. It does not say they have to stand. While the manual does state that players could be subject to consequences if they fail to be on the field during the national anthem, it does not state anything about consequences that will be taken if the do not stand during it.
This loophole is definitely something the NFL will take into account when owners meet to discuss the ongoing protest. Unfortunately, for the players, the word "should" can easily be changed to "are required" and there will probably not be much players can do about it as companies have the right to change their policies as long as there is a line in the player's contract stating that the company has that right.
So, what does this mean for the future of the NFL? Although owners cannot be forced to make their players stand for the anthem, the bottom line is the NFL is losing money because of this protest - which means NFL teams are losing money because of the protest. As it has in almost every case, money will reign supreme and dictate the actions of the people who earn it.
Don't be discouraged, thinking justice has not been served. The players made a huge impact statement and garnered several supporters for their cause. Always remember, the hardest part of advertising is reaching a large customer base - and the NFL has definitely done that.