NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has written a letter to NFL teams saying he believes all players should stand for the National Anthem.
The thinking is this a prelude to a vote to institute such a new rule for players, though one already exists.
Donald Trump has been lobbying for this to claim a “victory” over players who’ve been respectfully kneeling during the anthem as an expression against racial inequality and police mistreatment of black suspects. He turned their heartfelt and understandable protest into a fake show of disrespect for flag and military. Which it never was. But Trump wants to bring dissidents to heel. The millionaire NFL owners are only too happy to obey rather than take his heat.
The players need a strategy. Goodell plays some lip service to a “platform to promote the work of our players,” but I presume it will have to be run by Trump first in some fashion. Will the NFL require standing at attention? Will it require a certain sort of salute? Will insolent body language be punished? Will an upraised arm and a cheer for Trump also be required?
The players union may have something to say about this.
There are other ways to resist Trump, even if forced to march in formation and salute like youth at a Nuremberg rally. His base will love putting those uppity you-know-whats in their place. But there are people from all walks of life — even those who didn’t necessarily buy into the flag protest — who know a bully when they see one.
UPDATE: After Trump brayed about bringing the NFL to heel, it issued a
“Commentary this morning about the Commissioner’s position on the Anthem is not accurate,” the league said, specifically referencing Trump.
“As we said yesterday, there will be a discussion of these issues at the owners meeting next week. The NFL is doing the hard work of trying to move from protests to progress, working to bring people together.”
But Jerry Jones has a rule. He made that clear.