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Opinion: Donald Trump and the NFL are masking ruthless corporatism with patriotism - and it needs to stop

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The President’s latest comments are adding more unnecessary fuel to the NFL and national anthem protest fire.

NFL: Super Bowl LIII Handoff Press Conference
Roger Godell has officially solidified his stance as a puppet.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When news broke early Wednesday morning concerning the NFL’s new policy about the national anthem, it was presented as a compromise between owners and players. Roger Goodell declared that the decision was ”unanimous” amongst owners and everything seemed to be finally simmering down.

However, we know that the NFL didn’t consult the NFLPA about the decision. Also, 49ers’ CEO Jed York stated that his team abstained from the vote — rendering Goodell’s statement false.

Thursday, Donald Trump came bursting through the wall like an orange-colored Kool-Aid man this morning with his words:

The message was pretty clear: conform or leave the country.

Trump reignited this fire with his disatrous “fire the sons-of-bitches” comment back in 2017. Everything had just started to cool off, but was immediately brought back into the spotlight after Trump said those words. He even stated later that his comments would be “bad for business“ to the NFL and everything that happened after set the course for where we are today.

The NFL made it clear on Wednesday that Trump and his statements did in fact strike fear into the owners of these teams after passing the new policy that requires players to either stand for the national anthem or be fined.

But hold on, they were also given the opportunity to stay in the shadows of the locker room. That way, they can hold their own protests out of the public eye.

In case you’ve just been completely oblivious to our nation’s history your entire life, then one should immediately recognize that the point of a protest is for it to be in the public eye in order to get your message out.

This type of policy is not a compromise, it is a way of silencing those who wish to speak out against ongoing events in this country in order to protect an ever-growing bottom line.

The owners have let Trump get into their heads and in return they’ve allowed him to make — and I hate to admit this — shrewd, calculated moves like his message this morning in order to continue to keep his constituents and supporters happy.

The NFL and the owners obviously fear that this controversy is the primary reason for the ratings and game attendance drops over the past few years, namely since 2015. According to them, we should just disregard the fact that an intensely-heightened home viewing experience combined with outrageous ticket, concessions, and parking prices are the major components for the drop in viewership and game attendance. Cord-cutters have also made their impact as well as parents keeping kids away from the sport for fear of injuries.

Here is a fun fact for the day — Colin Kaepernick wasn’t protesting in 2015 when the ratings began to fall.

During Thursday’s gathering with the media, Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter addressed the national anthem policy handed down by the league.

“It just happened yesterday so there’s going to be some time to work through it” Koetter said. “The clubs are going to have to sit down with the decision makers and decide what the clubs are going to do individually. But, anything else, I’m on the record with what I think about the national anthem. In a perfect world, everybody would stand, that’s what I believe. Again, there’s a policy now and we’ll just have to work through it.”

Per Koetter, the Buccaneers have not implemented an individual team policy yet for anyone who decides not to stand during the anthem while on the sidelines. When asked if he will continue to talk to his his players about it, Koetter stated he hasn’t put much thought into it but emphasizes that player protests were never about the national anthem.

“I haven’t really given that a lot of thought because again, we don’t have any national anthems coming up until August but I always have in the past,” said Koetter. “I think it’s important to continue to work with the players. If you remember, I don’t really think this started out as a national anthem issue. It started out, that’s not what the protest was about. Again, we have a policy now and we’ll work through that policy and we’ll do what we’re supposed to do within the policy.”

But the NFL cannot control how, when, where, and why people will choose to consume their product. What they can control however, are the people they employ.

Nascar has been suffering through a severe ratings drop recently and they didn’t have an anthem controversy and their fans are arguably more of the blue-collared type than NFL fans. The Grammys 2018 telecast suffered through a 30% ratings drop of around 10 million viewers — which was attributed mostly to the rise in cord-cutting. TV itself in general is facing a crisis these days and it’s obvious.

But don’t tell that to the NFL. As long as the rich keep getting richer then business is good no matter what the cost, because it’s just business.

You know who is tired of hearing that “it’s just business” or that “it’s just to protect the bottom line”? Every single person in this country who isn’t a damn billionaire.

Choosing profits over people is what has America in the decay it has been over the past few decades. People are tired of being passed up for the almighty dollar and they should be.

Trump’s comments this morning were not only completely skewed and unnecessary, but did nothing aside from escalating the situation and make things worse just like he did when opened his mouth the very first time.

They want to act like the players choose to come work for them when in fact it is the complete opposite. How many times have we seen an owner step in and demand a player be drafted because they are in love with that player? The entire selection process for NFL players comes from the wants and needs of the NFL and fortunately for the players they want to provide those services.

But according to Trump and the NFL, the players should kiss the feet of their employers any chance they get without question.

Let’s be clear on this too — they are not taking a knee on the clock. The anthem is before the game begins, the players don’t get paid to show up for the anthem.

Now, if it’s 4th-and-1 on the five yard line and a player decides to then raise his fist and subsequently take a knee, sure I get the issue with that. We all know that situation is just as preposterous as Trump’s hairline.

And the worst part about all of this is how they are using the love of one’s country to cover up their tactics. As a young, white male I don’t even pretend to know what it’s like to be a minority in this country — they no doubt have their struggles within the confines of our country’s structure.

This country is supposed to represent freedom and equality. If someone feels like they have not received this treatment in a fair manner, then how can one be upset if they decide to speak out? Please, tell me a more peaceful way to protest other than taking a knee and I’ll be glad to back off.

The lack of discernment at this point of why the players are protesting is troublesome as well. It almost appears that certain groups of people - fans, politicans, and pundits alike - have completely disregarded the fact that these protests are to bring awareness to racial injustice, it is not an attack on the flag, military, or country.

This type of cultural ignorance and unawareness also drives the patriotic side of this dicussion to the tune of “This country is great for me, therefore it should be for you too and I don’t want to hear why it isn’t.” Now, you’re an enemy of the state and should leave the country since you don’t want to stand for one minute on Sunday morning.

It’s time for the NFL to start protecting the players and not the owners - it’s not like they need it anyway.