Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long blasted the NFL’s new anthem policy on Tuesday afternoon, calling it a “dumb move” that was not “rooted in patriotism.”
“It’s their right, but I think it was a dumb move and I think it was clumsy,” Long said. “I don’t think it was rooted in patriotism. I love this country; I love our vets. The guys protesting love our country and love our vets. I think it was driven by fear of a diminished bottom line, which I already wrote on Twitter. You can see that on Twitter. The underlying factor is they’re afraid of the President. I don’t really need to expound much on that. It’s their right, again, but it’s a clumsy rule.”
Here’s a portion of that interview:
— John McMullen (@JFMcMullen) May 29, 2018
The NFL recently created a new policy regarding player conduct during the anthem. The new rule announced on May 23 maintains that players can stay in the locker room if they are not interested in standing for the anthem. Though, if they do take to the sidelines, they must stand during the song.
If a player comes to the sidelines and does not respect the anthem, the player’s team will get fined. In addition, the team would have the right to enforce additional discipline on the player as they see fit.
Long made headlines earlier in the season after he stood in support of Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who was raising his fist during the anthem. As Jenkins raised his fist, Long stood beside him and placed a hand on his shoulder.
In the above video, Long takes exception to the NFL’s decision to not “get the players involved” in the rule making process. However, as Long himself points out, it’s the league’s “right” to formulate these types of policies. No evidence has emerged which suggests the NFL acted outside of their legal power as set forth in the collective bargaining agreement. If they did, why has the NFLPA not yet brought a suit against the league?
Moreover, where is the precedent for the players including the NFL in their decision making processes? Did Colin Kaepernick include the league in his decision making process prior to beginning the anthem protest movement? If the NFL needs to keep the players in the loop on decisions that impact them, then shouldn’t Kaepernick have kept the league in the loop about a decision that was going to ignite a firestorm of national controversy?
One would think the league would have had some very strong reservations about a player taking the spotlight off the game and turning the NFL’s platform into a showcase for social justice activism.
In short, as Long’s employer, the NFL is free to set policies regarding player conduct when it comes to the anthem. The platform that he and others have used to protest the flag and anthem, is a platform that belongs to the NFL. The Eagles defender either needs to either respect that, or seek employment elsewhere.
The two-time Super Bowl champ is correct, however, in saying that Trump played a key role in bringing the NFL’s new anthem policy about. Though, given that, one wonders why Long is declining to go to the White House and celebrate his team’s Super Bowl championship? If players will no longer be able to protest during the anthem, then the most powerful thing left for activist players to do is to go to Washington and confront the man who ultimately crushed their movement.
After all, what’s the most the NFL could do? Make a rule requiring players to stand for the anthem?
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn