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Mike Siegel: The NFL And Kneeling

Is the League at A Crossroads?

Mike Siegel
September 25, 2017 - 10:52 am

What started as a single player expressing his views, as vapid as they are, has become a troubling burden for the National Football League. This is a nine billion dollar a year business that can ill afford a drop off in attendance or more importantly viewership for the network and satellite dish packages sold to the American consumer.

We can first establish the fact that this is not a First Amendment right. The First Amendment protects us from government restriction, not private action by a company limiting speech for an employee while they are on the job.

Thus, there is no inherent right to kneel during the National Anthem. In fact, Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has already established a policy that any player who kneels is fired. Period.

President Trump has rightly called these players out for their pure disrespect for those who have sacrificed their lives, suffered disabilities and psychological challenges to protect the very freedom for these players to make the success of their lives that they have.

Michael Bennett of the Seahawks is a good example. He was Most Valuable Player when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2014 against Denver. He now earns $8 million per year. He should be reminded that it was this country and its freedom based on talent in any given field that offered him the opportunity to be one of the highest income earners in America,

Most of the owners and players have all of a sudden become passionate supporters of free speech. Free speech exists. The players can issue statements, create organizations, appear in the media, develop their own foundations supporting their views on their own time. What the owners do not get is that the American people will simply walk away from the NFL in disgust while these owners cave in to the players.

Where will we draw the line? What are they actually protesting? How does disrespecting this nation as represented by our national anthem even have an iota of relationship to issues about which these players are concerned.

They have the NFL Players Association. Why not put together a series of legislative proposals that will be presented to Congress and the State Legislatures? They have more than enough financial ability to have the best lawyers write the legislation and have the best lobbyists do their craft of lobbying legislators to pass their client’s legislation.

Instead of that they choose to insult the very nation that offered them the success they have achieved.

These players know little or nothing about accomplishing their objectives. They also do not understand that the vast majority of police killings of blacks by white officers are justified and grand juries have found that in most cases.

But players like Michael Bennett do not want to hear that truth. Instead he contrives a situation in which police stopped him in Las Vegas after being told there was a possible active shooter in the casino after the Mayweather-McGregor fight. Bennett was crouched behind a gaming machine, then ran out of the casino and climbed over a wall. No one knew who he was and with the police warning, it was a part of their duty to investigate this person running. Bennett was detained for 10 minutes and, as of now, the Las Vegas Police have stated that there is no evidence to show that this stop of Bennett was race-based.

This is reminiscent of the allegation that Michael Brown was wrongfully killed by Officer Darrin Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, when we now know absolutely that the officer acted properly in defending himself and Michael Brown caused his own death.

There are numerous other cases where there have been attempts to malign the police that were found to be false claims. That is why this kneeling needs to have a strong response. The owners, except Jerry Jones of Dallas, are abiding this disgraceful behavior, so it is up to the fans.

The football field is not the place to express your views on social issues. It is a place to play football. We should all look forward to that focus on the football field instead of disrespectful behavior on the sidelines.



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