Do Politics Have A Place In The NFL?

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Freedom, respect and “taking a knee” in the NFL. The VP walks out. Trump threatens. What’s right here?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers players kneel in prayer in the end zone before an NFL football game against the New England Patriots Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers players kneel in prayer in the end zone before an NFL football game against the New England Patriots Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

It started very small, with Colin Kapernick.  Then the president called protesting NFL players taking a knee at games during the national anthem sons of bitches, and it went big.  Players – and coaches – all over, pushing back, linking arms, taking a knee.  This week, Mike Pence stoked it again.  Walking out of a Colts-49ers game.  The NFL, saying they should stand, but not demanding – yet.  The first owner demanding.  Trump, firing away.  This hour, On Point:  the NFL, “taking a knee,” and where this goes. --Tom Ashbrook


Robert Klemko, NFL writer for Sports Illustrated. (@RobertKlemko )

Alejandro Danois, editor-in-chief, The Shadow League. (@alidanois)

Catherine Ross, professor at George Washington University Law School. (@catherinejross_)

Michael Caputo, radio host for WBEN news radio in Buffalo.  (@MichaelRCaputo)

From Tom's Reading List:

The Players' Tribune, Russell Okung: An Open Letter To NFL Players: Let's Get Organized — "Things have clearly gotten out of control. As a pragmatist, I will admit, I initially doubted the merits of Colin Kaepernick’s protest and questioned his strategy.

I was wrong."

Sports IllustratedRoger Goodell’s National Anthem Letter to NFL Owners—Annotated — "Roger Goodell’s Tuesday letter to the NFL’s 32 teams, laying out the league’s stance on social justice protests during the national anthem, and the plan to reach a resolution at next week’s league meeting, was the strongest message yet from the NFL offices on the issue dividing the viewing public. ... After playing a behind-the-scenes intermediary role early on, NFL HQ is mobilizing, through its messaging, to resolve a conflict that it acknowledges is alienating fans. Here’s that letter (in bold), with my thoughts on its real message, to teams, players and fans (in italics)."

The Shadow League:  Colin Kaepernick And The Power Of Sports To Transform America — "Trump is waging an all-out assault on the movement that Colin Kaepernick re-ignited, saying, 'You cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem, you cannot do that.' That's a pretty peculiar statement from a man who once Tweeted in January, 'Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.'"

New York Times: NFL Players May Have An Ally In Their Protests: Labor Law — "While the law might not bear on whether an individual player can kneel during the anthem, many experts say it could protect players from repercussions for making such a gesture together — or taking other action — to show solidarity on the job."

CNN: Why Taking The Knee Stomps On My Foot — "So to me, even as a lifelong football fan, it seems pretty normal to find something offensive about players continuing to take the knee during the anthem, especially after so many people have made clear how uncomfortable it makes them feel. After all, if you walk up to me and stomp on my foot, I'll give you a pass if you say it was an accident. You don't even have to apologize. But the second time you do it, I know that you know that you hurt my foot when you stomped on it. Yet you've chosen to hurt my foot again and again, so that speaks volumes about you."

This program aired on October 13, 2017.


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