NFL National Anthem Protests Policy
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Adopts Cowardly New Anthem Policy

It is truly Roger Goodell’s league now. Just moments ago, the NFL announced they had adopted a new national anthem policy where all team personnel, players, coaches and staff on the field would be required to stand for the anthem. If anyone chooses not to stand, then they must remain in the locker room or be subject to a fine.

The new rule was approved by all 32 NFL team owners.

If you had no understanding of why the protests were happening, then this probably seems like a solid compromise. But, then, having no “understanding” of these protests takes a willful ignorance and conscious decision to handwave every single word said about the protests from the players actually protesting.

It’s not about the flag. It’s not about the anthem. It’s not about patriotism and the military and every other stupid thing you’ve read on Facebook. The “protests” were done to shine a spotlight on state and police-sanctioned violence, murder and criminal behavior targeting innocent American civilians.

Just two months ago a 22 year-old man was hanging out in his grandparent’s backyard, messing with his cellphone. Police, who were responding to a report of a man breaking car windows, saw this guy hanging out with his family and approached him. He walked toward them, as you would if police shouted out to you, and they shot him in his neck, his armpit, his leg, twice in his right shoulder and three times in his lower back.

He was in his own grandparents’ yard. He was holding a cellphone. His name was Stephen Clark. He had two children.

If this was an isolated incident, or one that happened from time to time in every community, it could be described as an “accident.” And unfortunate turn of events. What’s truly unfortunate is this isn’t the first time something like this has happened and it’s not the last. It’s just, literally, the most recent police killing of an innocent, unarmed man that popped into my head as I’m writing this.

If you Google police shootings and killings of unarmed people, you’ll find plenty more. Just from the last few years. This is why NFL players were kneeling. Not to disrespect the flag or the military or your grandad. How do I know this? By listening to the words coming out of the players’ mouths.

“…Our goal was to raise awareness and shed light on the issues that were happening in our country,” former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid told NBC Sports last year. “I think we accomplished that goal. What I was upset about was the narrative, the false narrative, that were being told about us. People saying we’re un-American. That we’re against the police entirely and the military. That just wasn’t true.”

Kneeling shows reverence. It shows respect. It’s literally shows submission. That’s in the dictionary definition. To view kneeling as disrespectful is to blaspheme what millions of people do in church every Sunday.

The issue of police and state-sanctioned violence on innocent citizens needs to be talked about all the time. It needs to be addressed and if the NFL had courage, they would use the kneeling protests as a platform for community outreach. They would be on the forefront of the call to end the shooting of unarmed civilians. They could stand with the victims and their families and hopefully help create a country where no one felt he had to kneel anymore to shine a spotlight on the Stephen Clarks. Because there are so many Stephen Clarks. Far, far too many.

Of course, courage is a foreign concept to Roger Goodell and after today, I’m sure he and the NFL owners will all sit back, relax and nod to each other at a job well done. Somewhere, Papa John is smiling. I’m not.

By the way, if you noticed that I left a few common descriptive adjectives concerning the victims out of this article, good.

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About Adam Greene

Adam Greene is a writer and photographer based out of East Tennessee. His work has appeared in USA Today, the Associated Press, the Chicago Cubs Vineline Magazine, AskMen.com and many other publications.

About Adam Greene

Adam Greene is a writer and photographer based out of East Tennessee. His work has appeared in USA Today, the Associated Press, the Chicago Cubs Vineline Magazine, AskMen.com and many other publications.

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