Dear Atlanta Falcons (… and the rest of the NFL!)

The decision to change the rules about how NFL players should conduct themselves during the National Anthem occurred at a meeting in the Buckhead area of Atlanta.  Miles away from the shiny, new, convertible topped Mercedes Benz stadium, a decision was made that not only affects football but affects the core of American culture.  Football is America’s sport and today the culture of America is up for debate. Falcons, what are you going to do about it?

I know that the majority of the athletes and owners did not ask to be thrust into the spotlight on this issue.  However, to whom much is given, much is required.  In this moment in American history, you are there basking in the benefits and the burdens that the spotlight brings.  During the bus boycotts of Montgomery and the counter sit-ins downtown on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, there were many unwilling participants who were thrust into action.  Imagine what would America would be today if they sat it out and claimed that the matter had nothing to do with them.  What are the NFL players and fans going to do with this opportunity? Will Atlanta take a lead?

Pause before you answer that question.  I want to be sure we are talking the same language.  In 2016, Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee in protest of excessive force by law enforcement.  Not protesting all cops, just bad cops.  Not protesting the flag but rather trying to encourage our government to treat everyone who pledges allegiance to that flag with the respect they deserve as Americans. 

All law enforcement are agents of the government.  Whether it is the FBI spying on a presidential candidate or a beat cop slamming someone to the ground with far more force than is required – we have the right as Americans to expect a level of respect, transparency, and ethics from all levels law enforcement.  Most police provide that respect, but the damage done to the soul of America by the few bad cops slows the progress of our country.  The NFL has the power to move us forward. 

I know, things got lost in the weeds.  Somehow this protest stop being about bringing attention to excessive force and became about standing vs. kneeling, the troops, and whether or not the NFL has the right to dictate whether you can kneel or not.  As a lawyer that is a great trial tactic called, “muddying the waters.”  Making an issue so convoluted you don’t know what you are disagreeing about anymore.

No matter how we got to this state of confusion, the truth is, the NFL now has more power than any entity in this entire country to make a stand against excessive force.  Yes. You – have the attention of the world.  Imagine the change you could spur if the players stand together.  How amazing would it be if a few courageous souls do what is right no matter how inconvenient it may be.

We all can feel the power you have.  That power was confirmed in a hotel in Buckhead in May when the owners made a decision about how you must show your allegiance.  Why? Because, America will listen to you.  Your fans will follow you.  Today, NFL players hold more power than any president, police union, or NFL commissioner to bring light to the issue of excessive force. 

Your fans are waiting for you.  Fans have a point when they argue, “I won’t stop watching NFL and do more than the players are willing to do themselves.”  Give them a reason to keep watching while supporting a good cause.  Tell them how to stand with you.  Lead the way.

In fairness,  I understand you have a career to protect.  No worries, lawyers to the rescue.  The new policy reportedly prevents kneeling or sitting during the anthem.  The policy did not prevent other types of actions and protest.  Colin first chose to sit, then he chose to kneel after the suggestion of a teammate and former Army veteran suggested it as a sign of respect (go figure.)[i]  But kneeling or sitting is not the only way you can show support for this issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#WAKANDAFOREVER and various other options exist.  Frankly, anything would do if done together and consistently.  You see the point is not to show the NFL who is boss- so play by their rules.  The point is not to disrespect the flag – so stand when it is presented (if you so choose).  The point is to use your platform to force America to talk about the real issue – so show them you have not forgotten and will continue the fight.

Malcolm Jenkins of the Eagles said, “This has never been about taking a knee, raising a fist or anyone’s patriotism, but doing what we can to effect real change for real people.” He is right, keep your focus on the real issue and your power to influence change.  The Eagles in their refusal to go to the White House recently is an example of this.  Today  I woke up to this powerful silent protest on my social media time line.

Watch this video https://www.facebook.com/msnbc/videos/2598214496865231/?t=0  Notice how the media wanted to talk about the White House, about President Trump, and everything EXCEPT what issue this player attempted to convey – EXCESSIVE FORCE!  Are you up for the challenge Falcons players (and fans)?

There are about 1,700 players on NFL rosters. Roughly 180 players, a little more than 10%, chose not to stand for the national anthem in Week 3 of the 2017 NFL season.   180 players forced change.  Don’t wait on a 100% consensus, it will never happen. Don’t count who is with you.  Just move forward boldly.  For America.  #FortheCulture

  

[i] https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/veteran-kaepernick-take-a-knee-anthem/

19
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
5 Comment threads
14 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
9 Comment authors
BenevolusGregschamblee54Ellynnbethebalance Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

This piece from Deadspin is one of the best takes I’ve read on this issue so far: https://deadspin.com/the-nfl-is-too-dumb-to-realize-that-donald-trump-is-nev-1826558748 “The only people who could not have seen it coming are the very people who did not see it coming—the plump defective oligarchs who run the NFL, many of whom gave millions of their own dollars to Trump’s rancid failed prank of a campaign. They believed that Trump was their peer or their friend or anything but what he is and has always so blaringly been, so they tried to make some sort of deal with him on the player protests against… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

I read the linked to deadspin column yesterday—You beat me to sharing it here.

“Football is America’s sport….”

That doesn’t bode well for the country as it turns players brains to mush, but now that that’s been recognized it won’t be America’s sport, at least in its current state, in 30 years as parents are now beginning to steer their children away from it.

I’d say it’s entirely the owners prerogative to do so, were it not for the fact that the owners are exempt from anti-trust legislation and many if not most are supported by taxpayers.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

The NFL doesn’t have an antitrust exemption. MLB is the only league with one.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Indeed it’s very nominal. Thanks for the enlightenment.

bethebalance
bethebalance

When I saw that Trump moved the goalposts and said the locker room was still unacceptable (locker rooms are OK for freely talking about sexual assault, btw, but not for freedom of speech…) I thought the owners got played, and they didn’t know Trump’s political game. But I think fans are fatigued on this issue, and if the protests are out of sight, they’re out of mind. Sad because the power of the protests are relatively diminished, but I can see most fans just ignoring Trump’s attempts to fabricate an issue. He may get a few cheers here or there… Read more »

atlindy
atlindy

You are presuming that most NFL owners actually agree with Kaepernick and his movement. Please consider the possibility that a majority of them do not.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

I don’t think it’s an agree/disagree kind of thing. Every NFL owner is incredibly wealthy. Outside of Shad Khan in Jacksonville, every NFL owner is white. They have, in all likelihood, never given any serious consideration to the issues of police brutality or the disparate treatment African-Americans receive from law enforcement. In other words, it’s not that they “agree” or “disagree” with what the players are protesting, they’ve simply never had to confront or consider the issue because they’ve never felt the impact of it.

atlindy
atlindy

What if they thought about it and still disagreed? Or what if they agreed but decided that they want NFL players to generally abstain from sending overt messages during games? Please read and consider this before you answer. http://www.jacksonville.com/article/20100417/SPORTS/801253940

Kara
Kara

“What if they thought about it and still disagreed?” Disagreed with WHAT? That there are “issues of police brutality or the disparate treatment African-Americans receive from law enforcement”? If they “disagree” with that, then they are being ignorant and racist. “What if … they want NFL players to generally abstain from sending overt messages during games” You mean like Tim Tebow kneeling for Jesus and putting Bible verses on his uniform? How about players wearing pink to honor breast cancer survivors? Or those teams that wore 911/NeverForget badges on their uniforms? So the message you’re sending here is that white-approved,… Read more »

atlindy
atlindy

“If they “disagree” with that, then they are being ignorant and racist.” Your saying so doesn’t make it true. “You mean like Tim Tebow kneeling for Jesus and putting Bible verses on his uniform? ” You didn’t read my link, did you? “So the message you’re sending here is that white-approved, jingoistic patriotism is fine, but not anything that draws attention to uncomfortable issues in our culture.” Again, you didn’t read my link. The NFL is a business that seeks to maximize their profits. They only allow activities that they deem to be consistent with that goal. A significant portion… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

What if they thought about it and still disagreed? What if some people say cucumbers taste better pickled? Please read and consider this before you answer I don’t think this proves the point you think it does. The NFL is concerned with the visual identity of the league. That’s why guys get fined for wearing their socks too low. That’s why guys get fined for wearing their socks too high. It has nothing to do with the NFL owners’ personal beliefs or fashion choices and everything to do with the league’s desire to have a consistent presentation of its brand… Read more »

Ellynn
Ellynn

Green Bay does not have an owner, it is a corporation with a governing board, an executive board, and over 300,000 stock holders, of which roughly 16,000 are voting shares who ick the governing board. The governing board is not all white. Outside of Bug Selig, none are incredibly wealthy either.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

I used to have a roommate who was an “owner” of the Packers. I really felt like throwing in an “*” to preempt this exact response from you.

Ellynn
Ellynn

Now you know 2 ‘Owners”.

Kara
Kara

“Your saying so doesn’t make it true.”
No, the fact that it’s true makes it true. But gotcha. You can’t have an actual rational conversation with someone who refuses to believe that racial inequality does exist.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

Here’s a proposal… if Donald Trump can correctly recite the Star Spangled Banner, he’s allowed to complain about people “disrespecting the flag.”

Gregs
Gregs

If he can tell us who burned down the white house during the war of 1812, I’ll give him a pass. But thats not all the president doesn’t know. He thinks Puerto Rican’s are “foreigners.” He thinks there are “good” Nazis.” He thinks the Attorney General is his lawyer. He thinks he is a sovereign not the elected leader of one co-equal branch of government. He thinks that avoiding a veneral disease is equal to the sacrafice of John Mccain. He thinks you can buy a gold star…..I could go on but his daily debasement of the presidency is unpatriotic… Read more »

chamblee54
chamblee54

This controversy is playing into Donald J. Trump’s crooked little hands. He would much rather have us fussing about this that anything that will have any effect.
Ditto for calling anyone who disagrees with you a racist.

Benevolus
Benevolus

If people didn’t keep saying racist stuff it would happen a lot less. As long as people keep denying their racist behavior, other people are going to have to point it out.