Considering the trends currently sweeping through the American entertainment industry, it’s should come as little surprise that NFL has publicly shifted their views and policies surrounding player protests and conduct.
Remember, it was just last year that the National Football League sided with the its shareholders and the majority of fans, requiring that players stand in respect for the Nation Anthem. However, all that has changed as the NFL has come under increasing media fire, following the death of George Floyd. The most recent criticisms have compared Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the Anthem and subsequent ‘taking a knee’, to the knee placed on Floyd’s neck during his arrest earlier this month.
Fans appear largely split on the issue, debating the league’s response via social media accounts and in NFL fan forums. We found such debate at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers forum Buczone.com as well as many others, immediately following Roger Goodells statement. Opinions ranging from skepticism like, “This decision was made by bean counters with spreadsheets. The NFL did the math and decided it would now be less hassle to go with the flow” while others claim, “The list of QBs who have signed contracts since he [Colin Kaepernick] was blacklisted is evidence that it was indeed a blacklisting.
In the wake of all that blowback, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell conceded in a statement last Friday that the league was wrong in its handling of the kneeling issue and that they should have listened to players like Kaepernick. Additionally, Goodell even offered his personal participation in the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no National Football League,” Goodell stated.
While the U.S. and its lawmakers debate the validity of BLMs claims of wide-spread and systematic racism and even though African Americans now account for over 70% of all NFL players, it would appear that the National Football League officially supports the efforts lead by Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA protesters, across the country.
Perhaps hoping to ride the fence a little, appeasing both middle America and advertisers at the same time, Mr. Goodell also suggested that protest should be peaceful. Saying in his video statement that they, “encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest”. Considering most American’s also support the right to peacefully assemble and protest, that contingency may buy him a little breathing room from more conservative voices. Many of whom have been increasingly concerned over the violence and looting sweeping the nation, claiming them to be more akin to city riots than protests.
The NFL is no stranger to controversy, but with the appetite for professional football waning in recent years, they will want to proceed with the utmost caution in the coming months. With the 2020 NFL season rapidly approaching and concerns over the Coronavirus still on fan’s minds, this could prove to be a very tough year for the league.