Since Colin Kaepernick began sitting, and then kneeling, during the national anthem in 2016, to protest police brutality against black people, other players across the league joined in there was kneeling at nearly every game. The growing protest and the conversation ( that was later hijacked) that it sparked was going to force America to look in the mirror and really examine the systematic terrorizing of black people by certain segments of law enforcement.
However , a concerted effort was launched by the media and their talking heads to divert the attention away (and to vilify the protesters and the cause) from the true reason behind the protest to contrived straw men such as being anti-flag and anti-troop. The NBA and NFL are both culpable in that social hijacking, as those leagues have had no such issues with supporting issues and causes such as domestic violence and breast cancer ( though one would think there would be an emphasis on prostate cancer, as its the most second common cancer in men after skin cancer and the leagues in question are populated by men).
It must also be stated that for all the NFL’s ballyhoo that surrounded its breast cancer campaign, it seems that the league only wants its players to bring awareness to the cancers and in the methods that THEY approve off. Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Hayward was fined $6,000 for a uniform violation for writing “IRON HEAD” on his eye black as a tribute to his father, former NFL running back Craig “Iron Head” Hayward, who died of bone cancer in 2006. The league also denied DeAngelo Williams’ request to wear pink throughout the 2016 season to honor his mother who died of breast cancer.
However to the league’s credit last season, the league did expand its October cancer awareness through its “A Critical Catch” partnership with the American Cancer Society in which teams will get to choose one type of cancer long term, select a different cancer each year or multiple forms within a single season. Critical Catch focuses on screenable cancers that includes, lung, prostate, breast, cervical, colorectal and uterine cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.
The NFL’s recent anthem rule is yet another moment of lunacy in the league’s history. In short the rule requires players that are on the field to stand during the playing of the anthem however it gives them the choice to remain in the locker room if that’s their preference.
Rather than using their prodigious platform to further the discussion that was spawned a few years ago, they chose to appease a racist segment of the population by essentially rehashing their straw men talking points. The NFL has essentially told their players to sit down, or rather stand up, and shut up and that a flag , song anda check is more important than an issue that disproportionately affects nearly seventy percent of its players and great many of its fans.