Report: Some NFL Players Already Looking for Ways to Skirt Anthem Rules

Saints Protest
AP Photo/Matt Dunham

The NFL’s new policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem or stay in the locker room, has some players scheming ways to get around the rule, according to Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko.

“What I’m hearing from players: Those who weren’t planning demonstrations for next season are now back in the conversation, discussing ways to skirt to new rules ‘just to spite the NFL,'” Klemko tweeted.

Some might wonder why you would want to “spite” the people who pay your salary.

Many players feel it’s their First Amendment right to protest the anthem.

“What NFL owners did [Wednesday] was thwart the players’ rights to express themselves,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said in a statement.

That’s actually not accurate. The First Amendment doesn’t apply to private companies.

And private companies generally don’t like when employees cost them money. And according to some NFL’s clubs, the anthem protests have cost them business.

Indianapolis Colts COO Pete Ward recently blamed the team’s poor season-ticket  numbers on the anthem protest.

“I’m unable to quantify a number, but it is a factor – to some extent – in our renewals,” Ward told the Indianapolis Business Journal.

Baltimore Ravens President Dick Cass admitted the players protesting on foreign soil, before a Ravens-Jacksonville Jaguars game in London last September, led to a “significant number of no-shows” later in the season.

“We had the poor showing in London, complicated by the kneeling of a dozen players during the national anthem,” Cass wrote in a letter to season-ticket holders. “That became an emotional and divisive issue. We know that hurt some of you. Others saw it differently and welcomed the dialogue that followed. Others bluntly told us to keep statements and protests out of the game. There are some of you who have stayed away from our games.”

Recently, the Ravens significantly cut the stadium concession prices to help draw fans back.

But for some reason, there are players who don’t seem that concerned with the business side of the sport.

However, if the NFL ticket sales and TV ratings continue to go down, it will hurt the players in their next collective bargaining agreement. Their current CBA expires in 2021.

So if players look for ways to “spite” the NFL and still protest, they could end up spiting themselves in their future paychecks. But this movement is bigger than money to some.

“While I disagree with this decision, I will not let it silence or stop me from fighting,” Jenkins players coalition leader Malcolm Jenkins said in his statement. “The national conversation around race in America that NFL players forced over the past two years will persist as we continue to use our voices, our time and our money to create a more fair and just criminal justice system, and police brutality and foster better educational and economic opportunities for communities of color and those struggling in this country. For me, this has never been about taking a knee, raising a fist or anyone’s patriotism but doing what we can to effect real change for real people.”

And perhaps lower paychecks for NFL people in the future.

But Jenkins isn’t focused on that. He’s focused like a laser on societal change.

“The fight continues,” Jenkins tweeted.


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