Critics of the NFL players’ national anthem protests are facing fierce opposition from the Left.
According to The Daily Caller, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) took offense to Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones’ threat to bench players who show disrespect during the anthem. They issued a statement saying they intend to meet with Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, “to determine how he can best protect his players.”
The Washington Post reports that Jones issued a stern warning to his players, stating that if they chose to disrespect the flag during the national anthem, there would be consequences. “If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won’t play. Period. Period. We’re going to respect the flag,” he said.
Tony Covington, Senior Director of Corporate Affairs for the NAACP, claimed the warning was a violation of the player’s rights. “Jerry Jones’ comments are more than tone-deaf, more than misinformed and misguided – they are a public commitment by an NFL owner to violate his players’ constitutional right to free speech – one of the principles on which our nation was founded,” Covington said.
Covington went on to suggest that Jones’ comments are indicative of the reason why Colin Kaepernick failed to find a spot with any of the NFL teams. “They are proof that athletes like Colin Kaepernick who have quietly and peacefully used their platform to protest violence against communities of color do so at their own peril,” he said.
Yet the Left’s claims of rights infringement, and Jones’ attack on his own players, face an issue — he’s only barring players from playing if they protest. If he said he would fire them or withhold their paychecks, then it might be a different story. However, he’s simply saying they’ll still be employed, but they won’t participate in the games.
The players should be showing respect for the flag anyway, as per the NFL Game Operations Manual. The Manual — an executive level document that doesn’t appear publicly available — states that the national anthem “must be played prior to every NFL game.” It also states that during the anthem, “all players must be on the sideline” and that “players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand and refrain from talking.”
The manual even mentions that players who aren’t on the field during the Anthem “may result in discipline.” However, despite the words of the policy, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, the rule is only encouraged — not required.
When coach orders players to stand, NAACP says the warning was a violation of the player’s rights. Is it?
Another issue facing protest supporters is that the NFL Commissioner himself has stated that “everyone should stand” for the anthem, as reported by The Daily Caller. In a letter to the 32 team owners, Goodell stated that he believes the protests are causing a division in America.
He says in the letter, “The current dispute over the national anthem is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country. Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem.”
The NFL players are free to have their own opinions and are free to protest, but there’s nothing that says they have a right to play if they’re causing a disruption at the games.
Jones isn’t infringing on their constitutional rights — notwithstanding the fact the First Amendment guarantees Free Speech in conjunction with government censorship — he’s simply ensuring that he and his players act professionally and respectfully at their games.