Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown “took a knee” in support of the Kaepernick-inspired anthem protest movement, and gave “respect” to Jets CEO Christopher Johnson in an Instagram post on Saturday night.
Brown captioned the photo, saying, “Send the invoice to Christopher Johnson.” Johnson is the Jets CEO and acting owner, who promised to pay the fines of any Jets player who protested the anthem. The NFL changed their anthem rules last Wednesday, by requiring players on the field to “stand and show respect” for the flag and anthem. If a player disrespects the anthem, under the new rule, that player’s team will receive a fine.
As Breitbart Sports reported:
Johnson’s offer to pay the fines of protesting players is rather hollow. Under league rules, if a player disrespects the anthem, it’s the players team that gets fined, not the player. So, in reality, every NFL owner will pay the fine of a protesting player whether the owner is sympathetic to the players cause or not.
One could rate the promise even more hollow if the fact that the Jets did not have a single player protest during the anthem last year, gets taken into account. Though, since the Jets CEO and acting owner has made it clear there will be no fines or team punishments, that could obviously change.
Brown should probably do some homework on the rule as well. While Johnson can and will pay the protest fines for anyone who plays for the Jets. It’s exceedingly unlikely that Johnson would be able to pay Brown’s fine, since he plays for Pittsburgh. There’s also nothing in the rule which suggests that a player can’t kneel on his own time, away from football, when the anthem isn’t playing.
Of more importance, however, Brown’s Instagram post represents the first visual opposition from players, against the new NFL rule. How many more might be willing to protest on social media, or, in a game, remains to be seen.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn