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The NFL has gotten things wrong before, but in the recent history of this league, it has gotten fewer things more horribly, disgracefully, stupidly, terribly wrong than what it decided to do Wednesday in trying to half-heartedly stop players from protesting during the national anthem.
In a statement released by the league, team owners decided that starting this season, players can stay in the locker room during the anthem. If players take a knee to protest, say, unarmed black and brown people being unjustly shot by law enforcement, commissioner Roger Goodell can potentially fine both teams and players.
Essentially, the league is trying to shove the protests out of sight by putting them in the locker room. And by fining players who want to publicly protest, it is also trying to make this a financial decision for players.
“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” Goodell said in a press conference. “We want people to stand—that’s all personnel—and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something we think we owe. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players choices.”
But as protesters like Colin Kaepernick (who, along with Eric Reid, started the protests) have said, they are not protesting the anthem or the military; they are using the anthem to bring attention to racial injustice and the issue of police abuse of black and brown citizens.
Now, because of the NFL’s ineptitude, the anthem controversy will be around a long time, and it will be messy, and ugly, and divisive. The union and the league will likely go to war, and swaths of America will fight over it.
Within hours of the league’s announcement, the NFLPA had fired back:
Why is the NFL handling this so poorly, crafting a policy based on fear, not practicality? The answer remains c