Let’s Ponder NFL Protests

One of the purposes of this blog is to share information to allow you, the reader, to reason through truths to determine on which side, if any, you stand. So let’s ponder the NFL protests. Not just the small picture we are being shown, but the bigger picture. Then, we can decide where we fall on the small picture. A few questions to ponder.

Do you really want to live in a country which forces you to stand, salute, or pledge allegiance to a flag?

Can anyone say, “Hail Hitler?” Yes, yes, I know, I know, it’s Un-American, and we ARE in America. But if you boil it down enough, you’d see it is actually VERY American. Freedom and Liberty are founding principles to America, aren’t they? Either way, do you want to be FORCED or required to do any of these things? If so, then what is the point because it wouldn’t be real, would it?

Why did such a small number of players kneel to protest a flag which represented racial oppression and almost 3 times as many knelt to protest a President’s tweet?

Between September 1st, 2016 and September 21st, 2017, only 23 players joined Kaepernick. Many with only a one time protest gesture.  There are just under 1,700 players in total, not even 1% were kneeling about racial oppression. Only about 180 knelt (less than 10%) in protest to the tweets. Did you know that? That means over 1,500 players DID NOT kneel. The media sure made it seem like a lot more knelt, didn’t they?

Did you know there were a little over 50 players the 2nd week after the initial tweets (less than 1%)?

How about this, there are 16 teams in the NFL, and only 7 participated in the kneeling the second week after the tweets? A whopping 30 of those 50 some players were from 1 team! Know why you didn’t know this? Media, you were swayed by media coverage. Yeah, they got ya, didn’t they? Well, honestly, they got me too.

Why did American’s get so much madder when players knelt over a President’s tweet than they did over kneeling over racial oppression?

Because media made it happen. Yes, there were people mad about the first kneeling, but not outraged. Social media lit up after media amped up the situation. I said media because Trump didn’t really amp anything up. How can I say that? Because, Trumps tweet only spurred about 130 more players out of 1,700 to kneel. But how many outraged American’s did the media create?! Is it really where American’s hearts are? Do we really care more about a flag, an anthem, or a country than the people in the country?

If you were outraged, why did you continue to watch?

Just asking. If you are still beefing about it, then why are you still watching? *one eyebrow raised*

If you stopped watching, why did you stop?

Because you thought it was ridiculous that over privileged snowflakes protested a tweet? Did you even care before Trump’s Tweet?

Because you thought the NFL should have taken action against the kneeling players and didn’t? Why? Did you think they should take action because they were protesting on the job? Or because they should be forced to honor a flag and anthem?

If you ARE a person in the military, I can honestly understand your feelings of disrespect in this situation.  But if you are not, did you stop watching because you felt it was disrespectful of our men and women in the military? If so, I’d have to ask, when you see someone in uniform, wearing a Vet hat, etc, do you honor them in anyway? Do you even know where our military is stationed right now?

Because you found the kneeling during the National Anthem disrespectful? I saw someone else post a questions which gave me an ah ha moment. If you were offended because of not standing during the National Anthem, may I ask, what is your normal body position during the National Anthem when it is played at the beginning of a game? I mean, when you are at home, watching the game, do you stand? *stares waiting for a response*

Why do we tend to over look the reasons for a protest in lieu of the method of protest?

This one gets me each time. Look back through history, there is more written about the HOW of a protest than the WHY. A picture or a video shows the how, it’s very hard to capture the why. In this case, the initial why isn’t even a valid reason, it is a perceived reason (see my other article about this).  Discrimination might be a fact, but not oppression. Sports, in general, proves oppression is not a fact. But there are many other statistics which proves it is not. Discrimination is a whole other story.

Even in the protesting of the tweet, we looked at the how. We focused on the disrespect for the flag, anthem, and/or country. Why didn’t we address the fact they were protesting a tweet? In today’s world? Have you seen some of the stuff tweeted about other celebrities? That’s what NFL players are, entertainers, celebrities.  So what if it was from the President, plenty of my friends were already tweeting the same thing. Maybe we should have all just laughed at them? *rolls eyes*

Why did it take not standing for the National Anthem to prompt people to get upset with the conduct of NFL players?

Between November 2016 and now, there have been 20 NFL players arrested for violent crimes, 6 for drugs, and 5 for DUI’s. For the 2016 season, there were 28 arrests, and for the 2017 season, 33. But we stop watching games because between 50 and 180 players take a knee during a National Anthem? Over a flag? A song? A perceived disrespect for our military?

When has free speech on a job been acceptable?

Have you ever tried to kneel in protest of something your boss said about you? Yea? And how did that work out for you? Interestingly enough, we all give up a little of our First Amendment rights when we agree to work for certain organizations. The fact is, we are more likely protected by anti-harassment or anti-discrimination laws. Ironic in this situation, no?

The thing is, the NFL DOES have the right to issue fines against certain actions, as long as they do not violate anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws. For example, the actions of Tim Teblow and Husain Abdullah going to a knee or touching their forehead would be protected under these laws “reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer’s business.”

But if an employer says, for example, you must wear a business suit to work, you can not protest this request and invoke your freedom of speech rights, you may be able to invoke anti-discrimination laws though.

Not to mention the fact, the owners of the property have the right to rules regarding free speech on their property and have the right to have you removed. So this would mean the owners of the stadium.

Should the players be allowed “free speech” actions, personal messages, and supporting a cause?

Could you imagine if this was wide open? Pink socks, yellow shoes, green hats? Sitting, standing, laying, backs turned, hand stands during the National Anthem? Sticker’s all over the helmets for this cause, that cause, and everything in between?

First, the NFL is a business, so as ridiculous as some of the fines below may seem, they can be understandable. Order, it’s really about order. And money, a big portion is about money, the NFL wants their share. Every player could turn into a bill board otherwise. This is the big picture. Sure, wearing pink to support breast cancer seems like a great thing, in a small picture. But when you zoom out and show all the different causes supported by the 1,700 players, it would be a mad house!

Why are some “free speech” actions, personal messages, and supporting a cause, fined in the NFL while other’s are not?

This was of great interest to me. How do they decide what they fine and what they do not? In my opinion, it seems like this is where the NFL has messed up and gotten itself into hot water … inconsistency. Many players have been fined for personal message infractions (see the NFL Rule Book at the bottom). For trying to bring awareness to a cause. But then there are other’s who are not. *shrugs* Here is the rule:

Throughout the period on game-day that a player is visible to the stadium and television audience (including in pregame warm-ups, in the bench area, and during postgame interviews in the locker room or on the field), players are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or otherwise conveying personal messages either in writing or illustration, unless such message has been approved in advance by the League office.

In one article Grodell was quoted. “I don’t know the specifics of it because I don’t do [fines] on a daily basis, but we don’t allow personal messages,” Goodell told me. “And everybody has an interest, everybody has something that’s a good cause. But we’re a team game, and we represent the NFL. So when we do something, as we did last year with Sean Taylor, we do it collectively.”  I asked what was wrong with personalized messages. “Because everybody has their own individual causes,” Goodell said. “This is a national platform. This is the NFL’s platform, and all of its clubs’. We do things collectively. That’s what the game of football is all about.”

It seems to me all the kneeling was illustrating a personal message. Really, even the linking of arms was.

So many questions, so many answers to ponder. Hope these got you thinking.

 

 

If you are interested, here are some over the past few years and below are the actual rules.

  • Brandon Marshall (2013) clipped $10,500 by the NFL for wearing green shoes; he told reporters he did so to attract attention to Mental Health Awareness Week
  • Cam Heyward (2015) honored his father on his eye black, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward (former NFL fullback) who died of bone cancer. “Tackle Cancer” eye black was the league’s official cancer awareness message, which was allowed.
  • Ryan Clark (2015) $5,000, honoring Sean Taylor by etching “21” in his eye black.
  • Colin Kaepernick fined $10,000 for wearing pink Beats by Dre headphones after a game to promote Breast Cancer Awareness month
  • DeAngelo Williams (2015) fined $5,787 wearing “Find the Cure” eye black with the message “We will find a cure” printed along with a pink ribbon. “Tackle Cancer” eye black was the league’s official cancer awareness message, which was allowed.
  • William Gay (2015), fined $5,787 for purple cleats bringing attention to domestic violence
  • Josh Norman (2015) fined $5,000 for red and blue cleats with words ‘proud’ and ‘brave’ in honor of his grandfather a Korean War Veteran. He was fined for “displayed a personal message written on your shoes in view of the stadium and television audience.”
  • Don Jones (2014)  fined and suspended for two tweets critical of Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend on Draft Day.
  • Robert Griffin III (2013) fined $10,000 for wearing a T-shirt reading “Operation Patience” during warmup. (2014) Had to turn his ‘Know Jesus, Know Peace’ shirt inside out at a post game press conference.
  • Marshawn Lynch (2014)  fined $100,000 for not giving post-game interviews. He followed this by while wearing an Elmer Fudd hat and answering with “maybe” and “yeah” to the questions asked during the next post game interviews. No fine issued for the hat.
  • St. Louis Rams players were NOT fined for showed the symbolic “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture during pregame introductions.
  • Devon Still was NOT fined for “Leah Strong,” in support of his daughter’s cancer fight, in his eye black.

In 2015, the NFL fined a total of $17,363 for Personal Messages.

You can read the Rulebook in it’s entirety here. There is also a Personal Conduct Policy in place now.  But listed below are some excepts of the violated rules by those listed above:

ARTICLE 1. KICKOFF ON SCHEDULE. Both teams must be on the field to kick off at the scheduled time for the start of each half. Prior to the start of the game, both teams are required to appear on the field at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled kickoff in order to ensure sufficient time for proper warm-up.

SECTION 4 EQUIPMENT, UNIFORMS, PLAYER APPEARANCE

ARTICLE 1. GENERAL POLICY. …  All visible items worn on game day by players must be issued by the club or the League, or, if from outside sources, must have approval in advance by the League office.

Item 1. Helmet, Face Protectors. Helmet with all points of the chin strap (white only) fastened and facemask attached. Facemasks must not be more than ⅝-inch in diameter and must be made of rounded material; transparent materials are prohibited. Clear (transparent) plastic eye shields are optional. Tinted eye shields may be worn only after the League office is supplied with appropriate medical documentation and approval is subsequently granted. The League office has final approval. No visible identification of a manufacturer’s name or logo on the exterior of a helmet or on any attachment to a helmet is permitted unless provided for under a commercial arrangement between the League and manufacturer; in no event is identification of any helmet manufacturer permitted on the visible surface of a rear cervical pad. All helmets must carry a small NFL shield logo on the rear lower-left exterior, and an approved warning label on the rear lower-right exterior. Both labels will be supplied in quantity by the League office.

Item 7. Shoes. Shoes must be of standard football design, including “sneaker” type shoes such as basketball shoes, crosstraining shoes, etc. Each team must designate a dominant base color for its shoes, either black or white (with shoelace color conforming to the dominant base color of the tongue area of the shoe). Each team must also designate one of its Constitutional uniform colors as a dominant team color for its shoes. Each team must also designate one of its Constitutional uniform colors as a secondary team color for its shoes. Each team may also designate a third uniform color as a tertiary team color that may be used for accents on its shoes. The designation of team shoe colors as described above must be reported by each team to the League office no later than July 1 each year. Each player may select among shoe styles previously approved by the League office. All players on the same team must wear shoes with the same dominant base color. A player may wear an unapproved standard football shoe style as long as the player tapes over the entire shoe to conform to his team’s selected dominant base color (i.e., white or black). Logos, names, or other commercial identification on shoes are not permitted to be visible unless advance approval is granted by the League office.

*NOTE: In August, 2016, it was reported, “The league will also ease up on the rules about cleats.” With a clarification of “These shoes cannot be used to express political views.”

ARTICLE 7. LOGOS AND COMMERCIAL IDENTIFICATION. Throughout the period on game-day that a player is visible to the stadium and television audience (including in pregame warm-ups, in the bench area, and during postgame interviews in the locker room or on the field), players are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or orally promoting equipment, apparel, or other items that carry commercial names or logos/identifications of companies, unless such commercial identification has been approved in advance by the League office. The size of any approved logo or other commercial identification involved in an agreement between a manufacturer and the League will be modest and unobtrusive, and there is no assurance that it will be visible to the television audience.

ARTICLE 8. PERSONAL MESSAGES. Throughout the period on game-day that a player is visible to the stadium and television audience (including in pregame warm-ups, in the bench area, and during postgame interviews in the locker room or on the field), players are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or otherwise conveying personal messages either in writing or illustration, unless such message has been approved in advance by the League office. Items to celebrate anniversaries or memorable events, or to honor or commemorate individuals, such as helmet decals, and arm bands and jersey patches on players’ uniforms, are prohibited unless approved in advance by the League office. All such items approved by the League office, if any, must relate to team or League events or personages. The League will not grant permission for any club or player to wear, display, or otherwise convey messages, through helmet decals, arm bands, jersey patches, or other items affixed to game uniforms or equipment, which relate to political activities or causes, other non-football events, causes or campaigns, or charitable causes or campaigns. Further, any such approved items must be modest in size, tasteful, non-commercial, and noncontroversial; must not be worn for more than one football season; and if approved for use by a specific team, must not be worn by players on other teams in the League.

Penalties for Violating anything under Section 4:

  • … discovered during pregame warm-ups or at other times prior to the game, player
    will be advised to make appropriate correction; if the violation is not corrected, player will not be permitted to enter the game.
  • … discovered while player is in the game, and which involves the competitive
    or player safety aspects of the game (e.g., illegal kicking toe of shoe, an adhesive or slippery substance, failure to wear mandatory equipment), player will be removed from the game until he has complied.
  • … detected in the bench area: Player and head coach will be asked to remove the
    objectionable item, properly equip the player, or otherwise correct the violation. The involved player or players will not be permitted to enter the game until the player has complied.
  • … For repeat violation: Disqualification from game.
  • Notes: … In addition to the game-day penalties specified above, the Commissioner may subsequently impose independent disciplinary action on the club and involved player, up to and including suspension from the team’s next game—preseason, regular season, or postseason, whichever is applicable.

 

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