As the start of the NFL season inches closer, tensions over the controversial kneeling protests continue to preoccupy team coaches and owners. The protest, spearheaded by Colin Kaepernick, was never intended as a knock on the national anthem. Instead, it was a symbolic gesture to protest America’s racial injustice, and the very act of a player engaging in peaceful protest ought to have been celebrated since it is a fundamental right bestowed upon every citizen.
Of course, our universe isn’t nearly as logical or noble. Trump has made a lot of noise over this issue, and it continues to be a useful dog-whistle for his base. At least one team owner—Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys—wishes he would shut up, though. (Don’t get your hopes up: it’s not like Jones is sympathetic to the protests.)
Dallas News reporter Jon Machota live-tweeted Jones’s remarks during the press conference to kickoff the Cowboys’s training camp. Jones said Trump’s insistence on the “national anthem issue” is “problematic” and “everybody would like for it to go away.” Still, though, he reaffirmed his earlier stance: Dallas Cowboys players are to stand during the national anthem and should not remain in the locker room.
Jerry Jones: President Trump’s interest in the national anthem issue is “problematic” for the NFL. “Everybody would like for it to go away.”— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) July 25, 2018
Jerry Jones does not want players staying in the locker room during the national anthem. “Our policy is you stand during the anthem, toe on the line.” https://t.co/aKnk2iMbCR— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) July 25, 2018
A new national anthem policy announced in May would require players to stand for the anthem or stay in the locker room. Should a player choose to kneel, the team would be fined and league commissioner Roger Goodell would be in charge of finding the “appropriate discipline." NFL owners, including Jones, admitted Trump had a direct effect on that policy. Then, a short time later, the NFL and the NFL Players Association released a joint statement saying that they were holding off.
The NFL and NFLPA just released this statement in regards to the anthem issue pic.twitter.com/W3Jtwozqc5— Antwan V. Staley (@antwanstaley) July 20, 2018
A report from earlier this year showed a 9.7 percent drop in ratings this past season. Whether that’s due to injuries or Trump’s call for boycotts, protests look like they’ll continue on just the same (especially since not much has improved in the way of racial injustice in this country).