After weeks of deafening silence, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has finally spoken in regards to the national anthem protests that have gotten out of control in the league. In a memo to the league’s team owners, Goodell very directly stated that “we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem” and that the league wanted “to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.”
While the protests have ruffled the American public’s feathers, Goodell’s statement appears to have ruffled the NFL’s. According to Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, if Goodell’s recommendation were to become official league policy, all hell could break looks.
“If you take (protesting the anthem) away from them, there’s gonna be an uproar,” McCoy told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“I don’t think guys are gonna like it,” he said. “I think it’s gonna be an uproar if that is to happen because you’re basically taking away a constitutional right to freedom of speech. If guys wanna have a, I guess you would call it a peaceful protest, I don’t think it’s right to take that away.”
Now, to be fair to McCoy, it should be noted that he has not participated in any of the protests so far. However, his comments suggest he, like many, just doesn’t get it.
I suppose it depends on which side of the aisle you sit on, though, but one can certainly argue that there’s already an “uproar.” And it’s been coming from the American public. To see this, you need not look any further than the decline in ratings.
Also, it should be noted that the NFL is a private organization, which means if Goodell and any of its executives mandate that players must stand for the national anthem, well…then players must stand for the national anthem.
Additionally, and I hate to break it to McCoy and the rest of the players, but if you’re going to the go the route of Constitutionally-protected free speech, you can (and likely will) be fired for abusing it.
Nevertheless, if McCoy’s promised “uproar” occurs, it will simply prove that the league is way more out of touch with its fanbase than we already thought.
And for what it’s worth, it very well could happen. According Sports Illustrated and other outlets, NFL owners are considering mandating players to stand for the anthem as early as next week.