Instead of pandering to President Donald Trump, it might be a good idea for NFL owners to pander to the group of people that they need to survive.
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
During the 2011 NFL Lockout, I wrote a column for the Grio.com in response to a statement made by then-Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who characterized negotiations between the players and owners as “modern-day slavery.”
When folks across the political spectrum heard this, there was a collective freak out over Peterson’s remarks. When read in their full context, the remarks show that Peterson was referring to the power relationship between the players and the owners.
Whether either side likes it or not, the relationship is symbiotic. You can’t have one without the other.
But that idea often gets lost among fans when players speak out on social issues or even when the players are demanding a better deal during labor negotiations. While the players on these teams might be what sells the tickets and jerseys, thinking isn’t supposed to be part of what they bring to the table, especially if that thought goes against the one person that the owners appear to fear the most: President Donald Trump.
That’s not lost on owners like Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, especially when it comes to the subject of protesting police brutality during the National Anthem before the games start.
Thus, it was a breath of fresh air when Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers weighed in on the issue. In an interview with the Ringer.com, Rogers was asked what he would do about the protest issue if he were NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
In the interview, Rogers criticized the league’s original anthem policy that would require players to stand during the anthem if they came on the field or stay in the locker room if they couldn’t.
“The owners shouldn’t be able to pass rules without ratifying it through the players” and the anthem policy “definitely falls into that category,” Rogers said. “Especially for something like that — you need collaboration with the [NFL] Players Association.”
Meanwhile, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said that his team will stand for the anthem no matter what’s decided between the league and the NFLPA.
During his first four years in the league, the players didn’t have to stand for the anthem, Rogers said. In fact, players didn’t even come out onto the field during the time.
“We’d be in the locker room, we’d come out, intros, and then the game,” Rogers said. “Then the DOD [Department of Defense] paid some money for demonstrations and flyovers and whatnot and it became a different policy.”
Rogers also pointed out that the protests started by Colin Kaepernick back in 2016 were not about the anthem or soldiers, but “social equality and racial injustice.” He said most fans inside stadiums are out in the concession stands or in the restrooms. He also said there was inconsistency in the league’s policy.
When it comes to President Trump, Rogers said players and owners need to ignore him and his tweets and not give him any more publicity than he already has.
On one level, I can agree with Rodgers, because Trump is an empty barrel with a junior-high mentality. But as long as you have sycophantic owners like Jones, who has already decided to kowtow to Trump by saying that his team will stand for the anthem no matter what’s decided between the league and the NFLPA, ignoring Trump won’t be enough.
The truth is that the NFL’s owners have little respect for their business partners — the players (70 percent of whom are African-Americans) — and but are willing to ask , “How high?” when President Trump tells them to jump. What’s really bothersome is that Trump comes after African-American athletes to pander to a base that includes White supremacists.
NFL owners are also playing to Trump’s base as well, and that explains why Colin Kaepernick has yet to land a job in the NFL since he began taking a knee two years ago.