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Zulgad: Why now? NFL owners pick interesting time to make anthem decision

By Judd Zulgad

What were the NFL owners thinking?

That has been my main question since last Wednesday when the group approved a new national anthem policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field during the song but gives them the option to remain in the locker room.

The decision — teams can be fined if a player or any other team personnel do not show respect for the anthem — caused an uproar as a debate that had largely died down again became a full-fledged inferior.

That’s what makes the entire situation so perplexing.

The NFL, which long ago perfected the art of the Friday news dump, served this controversy up on a platter in the middle of the week when it was complete unnecessary. The main topic coming out of the spring owners meetings in Atlanta should have been the overhaul of the kickoff.

Instead, the only thing anyone wanted to talk about was that the owners seemed to be daring the players to protest during the anthem and threatening to fine them if they do now show proper respect for the song. You actually think all the players who were protesting, some of whom are key to their team(s), are going to just shut up and stay in the locker room?

This decision comes at a time when the sports news cycle is fairly slow. The NBA playoffs are a major topic, but it’s early in the baseball season and, as much as I like hockey, that sport isn’t exactly atop the radar for the majority of media outlets.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and his league have done a remarkable job of keeping the NFL in the headlines on a year-round basis but this seemed to be far from a wise play no matter how much some might appreciate the fact the league has decided its players aren’t worthy of being considered partners.

The players who have protested during the anthem — something now-unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick started by sitting during the song in 2016 — have done so for two years to protest racial inequality and police brutality.

The backlash against this reached a fever pitch last September when President Donald Trump decided to get involved. It soon became clear that Trump had scared the owners and so did the fact that their bottom line and ratings were being impacted (at least in their minds) by the protests.

The fact the owners have responded is not shocking. Money and the business side always have been the most important thing to these people. If that means alienating coaches and players, this group of owners doesn’t care. But what they do care about is perception and right now that perception is the NFL is dealing with a bumbling group of billionaires who are scared they might be losing money.

The common sense play here would have been to address the anthem matter at these meetings but make it clear that the league was going to sit down with the NFL Players Association and come up with a plan that would consider everyone’s feelings. The NBA has a rule that players must stand for the anthem but, guess what? They also come off as a group of owners who are in touch with what their players are thinking.

Instead, the NFL did just about everything wrong, including providing a mid-week talker to news organizations that were more than happy to run with it. This, of course, is the same league and commissioner who failed to properly handle the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases and only took more action after public opinion turned against them.

At least in those situations, Goodell and the league had to deal with crisis situations that were created by the two players. This time, Goodell and the bumbling billionaires reignited the crisis themselves with their questionable timing.


That’s an excellent question.

The post Zulgad: Why now? NFL owners pick interesting time to make anthem decision appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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