Have we reached a turning point in national anthem protests? It appears that may be the case.
Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones says he will bench any player that does not respect the American Flag or the national anthem. “If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said after Green Bay Packers defeated the Cowboys 35-31 on Sunday. “Understand? We will not … if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period.” Reports ESPN.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick launched a series of protests last year when he knelt before the start of each game during the national anthem in protest of supposed police brutality. Kaepernick became a free agent at the end of the 2016 season and has not been signed by any team for the 2017 season.
While only a handful of players were protesting during the national anthem by the start of the 2017 season, President Trump spurred a type of solidarity among players after he criticized Colin Kaepernick for refusing to stand during the national anthem at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama. Trump said he would walk out of the stadium if he saw players kneeling.
NFL players became galvanized by Trump’s statements, and the Sunday after the Huntsville rally saw more national anthem protests than ever before. Now, most players were not protesting police brutality but were kneeling in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. Patriotic fans, however, were more disgusted than ever.
On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Lucas Oil Stadium to watch his hometown Indianapolis Colts face off against the San Francisco 49ers.
“Looking forward to cheering for our @Colts & honoring the great career of #18 Peyton Manning at
@LucasOilStadium today. Go Colts!” Pence tweeted from the bleachers. However, his enthusiasm did not last long.
As the national anthem began to play at Lucas Oil Stadium, more than 20 players in the 49ers lineup took a knee. Pence stood and waited for the end of the national anthem, then promptly left the stadium in disgust.
“I left today’s Colts game because
@POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” Pence tweeted after leaving the stadium.
“At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience, now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem,” Pence tweeted.
On September 25th, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stood on the field to lock arms with his players in a show of solidarity during the national anthem. “We as a team are very much on the page together,” Jones said after the game. “We made our expression. I’m very supportive of the team, but under no circumstances will the Dallas Cowboys — I don’t care what happens — under no circumstances will we as an organization, coaches, players, not support and stand and recognize and honor the flag. Period.”
Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones says he will bench any player that does not respect the American Flag or the national anthem. Do you support this decision?
Yet, after Pence left the Colts game yesterday, embarrassing the league, Jones said respecting the flag is his number one priority. “If it comes between the impression or the perception that we’re not standing together, supporting each other or the perception that we’re disrespecting the flag, the perception that we’re not together will be secondary to not respecting the flag.”