The NFL, Trump and Taking a Knee

The NFL, Trump and Taking a Knee

So another weekend of the 2017 NFL season is almost in the books and it was the not week three with great comebacks, Tom Brady heroics or even deflated balls.  Instead, we had the week of the great NFL protest against what we really don’t know.  Was it because Colin Kaepernick can’t find a job?  Or killings at the hands of police?  Or maybe just that amorphous protest against Trump?

Admittedly, some of this was Trump’s doing.  During a campaign rally to sing the praises of Luther Strange in Alabama’s GOP primary runoff tomorrow, Trump decided to wade into the subject of sports players taking a knee or sitting during the National Anthem.  What this had to do with Luther Strange has left many scratching their heads.

Proving once again that no matter how good a Chief of Staff John Kelly may be, no one seems to have the power of wrestling Trump’s phone from his hands and keeping him off Twitter.  As if to throw gas on the fire from his comments in Alabama, he launched into a tirade against protesting players which had the natural reaction of creating protesters out of a good majority of the players.  Then somehow (one suspects CNN, MSNBC and ESPN), Trump’s comments were deemed “racist” using some perverted conversion flow chart that dangles in the minds of the Left.  Perhaps if Trump had left the subject alone, there would have been the obligatory few protest knees taken and life moves on.

This whole nonsense started with the Kaepernick controversy last year.  Because no owner wants to sign the quarterback and invite the unnecessary drama that would unfold around his presence, some have deemed the NFL yet another racist institution.  Although I rarely watch football games, when I do there seems to be a fairly good representation of black players- perhaps a higher percentage of blacks in the NFL than exists in the general population.  But today, that is racism because a single quarterback cannot find employment.  As our own Jim Jamitis stated: “Now one jerk’s stupidity is a national movement.”

The hypocritical reaction in the media is also on full display.  These 21st century patriots of the gridiron are being held up as heroes with a noble cause.  Compare this with the reaction to Tim Tebow a few years ago when he took a knee and prayed after a touchdown.  We were told that there was no place for such actions in professional sports; religion had no place in sports.  If so, perhaps we should inform every Hispanic baseball player to stop blessing themselves with the sign of the cross in the batter’s box.

The Washington Post said this:

One columnist in Denver called Tebow the worst quarterback in football.  Another columnist in Canada labeled Tebow the “Kim Kardashian of sports,” for the intense reaction he elicited.  Online, the torrent of mockery and criticism has been fierce.  Blog posts included “God explains why he let Tim Tebow fail” and Twitter exploded in hateful vitriol…In sheer volume and intensity, the comments section on an ESPN article best captured the storm known as Tebow mania.  They ranged from critical to crude under the theme “X is > Tebow,” with X being “eating your kids” among the options…

And all this was because Tebow took a knee to pray.  Collectively, the football world was praying for his failure.  It wasn’t a noble cause why he took a knee; he wasn’t protesting “something.”

One supposes there are things worse than taking a knee during the National Anthem, although the fine folks in London watching the Jacksonville-Baltimore game must have thought it quaint that American football players kneel during the National Anthem.  Sitting en mass (as the Oakland Raiders did) or refusing to come out of the locker room (like the Pittsburgh Steelers) is clearly more disrespectful than taking a knee or locking arms on the sideline.  I suppose turning one’s back to the flag or holding up a desecrated one would be worse.

Taking a knee seems to be a happy medium, all things considered.  Of course, these modern day heroes should be reminded that it is fans and television contracts that pay their salaries.  Playing to empty seats as a form of counter protest makes sense only if those seats are not paid for, but most of them are.  Declining television viewership could send a signal to advertisers that they are wasting their money, but we are not at that point yet.

The bottom line is that football will survive Donald Trump, just as the country will survive Donald Trump.  A bunch of overpaid prima donnas are upset because Trump does not spew the politically correct platitudes.  That, I suspect, is what they are protesting and using the integrity of “the League” as an excuse.  I suspect further that the overwhelming majority of Americans and football fans really care less and will tune in some time during the first quarter and avoid all the pregame drama.

Now given recent history and well-publicized assaults, perhaps the NFL players, coaches, staff and ownership should be taking a pregame knee in solidarity against violence against women.  Or maybe wear pink ribbon logos on their shoulder pads for breast cancer awareness.  At least we know what they stood for or against and people can go back to enjoying their Sunday afternoons.



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