New York Giants Owner John Mara said that he believes NFL owners will come to an agreement on a policy regarding anthem protests, on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, NFL Network and NFL.com reporter Ian Rapoport tweeted:
#Giants owner John Mara says there will be more discussion regarding the national anthem and social justice tomorrow… and he expects a resolution. There were lengthy talks today.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 22, 2018
News of the expected resolution was revealed on the same day that a report claiming NFL owners discussed penalizing teams for not standing for the anthem, emerged.
However, even if Mara’s prediction proves correct and NFL owners articulate a formal policy on player protests during the anthem, no one should believe that the debate will end there.
According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio:
Even if there’s a resolution, the issue will hardly be resolved. As previously explained, the NFL gave players the right to protest during the anthem, the NFL confirmed the right to protest during the anthem when Colin Kaepernick began to protest during the anthem in 2016, and the NFL reiterated the right to protest during the anthem when President Trump launched an all-out attack on the league and its players. How can the league simply remove that right unilaterally, with no negotiation, discussion, etc. regarding the situation?
The fact that the owners reportedly are considering potentially clunky outcomes like letting the home team decide whether protests can happen (ensuring that protests will never happen in states where the fan base would be the least inclined to accept it) or imposing a 15-yard penalty on any team with players who protest confirms that owners still don’t understand why players protest — and that owners simply want the issue to go away, primarily to ensure that President Trump (a man for whom many of the owners privately and/or publicly have little or no regard) will simply leave the NFL alone.
Florio’s point is well-taken. The league did, multiple times, say the players had the right to protest. Therefore, whatever resolution comes out of Atlanta, it would likely be a mistake to think that the league would ban the protests outright. Conversely, it would surprise somewhat if the NFL just shrugged their shoulders and allowed the protests to continue.
What’s more likely is that the league will come up with some policy seeking to find the middle ground between the two. In this case, that will likely come in the form of a rule allowing the teams to decide for themselves, whether they will protest. Tuesday’s report about owners mulling the idea of penalizing teams for protesting, was likely a foil. Released to momentarily distract and make whatever rule comes out of the meetings sound relatively reasonable.
Of course, any rule would have to gain the support of the NFL Players Association. It’s also highly unlikely that President Trump will have no comment about the new protest rule, regardless of what it is.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn