Imagine having so many intense negative feelings toward your country that being told to respect it, causes “uproar.” Those feelings aren’t merely imagined, for some, they are reality.
In an interview on ESPN NFL Reporter Adam Schefter’s podcast, Know Them From Adam, Buccaneers defensive lineman Gerald McCoy laid out what he believes will be the reaction of the players, if the NFL tells them that they must stand for the anthem.
McCoy said, “I don’t think guys are gonna like it. I think it’s gonna be an uproar if that is to happen because you’re basically taking away a constitutional right to freedom of speech. If guys wanna have a, I guess you would call it a peaceful protest, I don’t think it’s right to take that away.”
In the space of these few lines, McCoy reveals a couple breathtaking insights. First, by saying there would be an uproar over players merely being told to respect the anthem, he shows just how inextricably linked players believe the anthem is, with racism and oppression. After all, the question wasn’t, how would players react if the NFL made them confess that racism doesn’t exist and that all is right with the world?
No, the question only attempted to find out what the player response would be to merely having to respect the anthem. The fact that, in McCoy’s mind, that simple gesture of respect would elicit “uproar,” goes to show just how radicalized the players have become.
The other thing revealed here, is McCoy’s breathtaking ignorance on what the Constitution says about freedom of speech. The First Amendment only addresses what congress can regulate, as far as speech. It does not prohibit how a private organization like the NFL, can regulate speech.
Also weird is McCoy’s implication that as long as the protest is peaceful, that it somehow makes everything okay. A player writing political messages all over his body, then stripping down naked so people could read them, is peaceful. However, it’s also horrendous and in no way would it ever be allowed.
For this reason, and other less dramatic examples, the suitability of protests does not turn solely on whether a protest is peaceful.
Nonetheless, we may soon find out if McCoy’s prediction of uproar, actually happens. Commissioner Goodell publicly sent a memo to the league on Tuesday, saying that the league needs “to move past the anthem controversy.”
Discussions about rules regarding player conduct are expected to be “front and center,” at the owners meetings next week.
If the league mandates that players stand, and the players refuse to stand, as part of their “uproar.” Gerald McCoy, and others, are going to hear an uproar from the fans that will be a whole lot louder.