Should NFL Players be Forced to Stand?


Jason Hayden, Writer

There are many different perspectives when it comes to the NFL’s dilemma regarding players kneeling during the national anthem. Should players be allowed to kneel? Or should they be forced to stand? This was one of the biggest controversies of the 2017-2018 NFL season. In 2016, Colin Kaepernick, the now-former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, sat down during the national anthem before a preseason game. He explained his position after the game had ended: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

This all happened in 2016, months before Donald Trump became President of the United States. 

After Kaepernick took a seat, other players quickly followed in his footsteps. Dolphins players Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas, Arian Foster, and Jelani Jenkins took a knee during the national anthem. President Donald Trump’s reaction to this happening was “The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!” Trump, later on, tweeted “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!” Trump clearly shows his view that NFL players should not be allowed to kneel on the field because the NFL is a job for them and they cannot–and should not–protest on the clock.

Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL, stated that “We believe everyone should stand for the National Anthem…That’s an important part of our policy. It’s also an important part of our game that we all take great pride in. It’s also important for us to honor our flag and our country, and we think our fans expect us to do that.” Then he confronted Donald Trump’s tweet saying that players aren’t trying to be “disrespectful to the flag” when they kneel during the National Anthem. Eventually, the NFL may have to make a decision whether or not the players will be allowed to kneel for the national anthem.

Eleven NFL owners and 13 players met inside a conference room on the sixth floor of the NFL office in midtown Manhattan for more than three hours Tuesday morning, and when it was over, one owner said it was the best dialog he’d ever experienced with players. Finally, the news that the NFL won’t stop its players from kneeling during the national anthem was released by Commissioner Roger Goodell on the Tuesday following the league’s autumn meeting. Trump wasn’t very happy with this issue tweeting “Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country. Tell them to stand!”

Thus far, this is how the NFL has handled the issue of kneeling during the national anthem–and it looks no closer to “disappearing” as we move towards the offseason and the beginning of the new league year on March 14.