News and Commentary

KNEELING NFL: Player Protests Return As Football League Says It Won’t Implement New National Anthem Policy This Season

The NFL season kicked off in earnest on Sunday, and with it, protests against America returned as well.

Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson were the first players of the 2018 regular season to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem before the game. Dolphins defensive end Robert Quinn raised a fist into the air, while in the San Francisco 49ers, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin did the same thing.

And the protests will continue as the NFL is “not expected to implement a new policy on the national anthem this season,” league sources told ESPN.

The new policy is going to be no policy — at least for this season, according to sources.

Too many people have stances too strong to figure out a compromise, but an NFL official insisted Sunday morning that there is continuing dialogue on the topic as the league looks for ways to address social justice issues.

Players began sitting or kneeling during the anthem in 2016 to protest racial inequality, police brutality and other issues. The protests have become a divisive topic of debate, and the NFL and players’ union still haven’t said whether players will be punished this season if they choose to kneel or demonstrate during the anthem.

The National Football League, through a vote of the owners in May, passed a new anthem policy under which players would be banned from protesting on the field during the anthem. In a compromise, players would have been allowed to remain in the locker room during the anthem.

President Trump, meanwhile, is once again criticizing the NFL, noting that ratings could fall again if players keep protesting during the anthem.

“Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison. Viewership declined 13%, the lowest in over a decade. If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump is right: Ratings continued to skid. For the Atlanta Falcons-Philadelphia Eagles season opener Thursday, ratings were down 13%, ESPN reported. In 2017, ratings were down nearly 10%.