Last week the NFL owners approved a national anthem policy that would require all players to stand and show respect for the flag.  The policy, which was passed without discussion from the NFL Players Association, would allow players to stay in the locker room during the playing of the anthem if they wished not to participate.  Whether the move was a response to lower ratings based on the taking-a- knee protests, political pressure from fans and the Trump administration, or simply a poorly constructed compromise, the ball is now in the players court.  First Amendment rights aside, if the players continue to protest there will be fines, and if the players abstain from participating they will be outed.  Here are ten things NFL players could do to circumvent the current situation.

  1. Cleverly continue the take-a-knee protest by having the honorary coin-flip person be Shaquille O’Neal, Neil Diamond, or Neil Patrick-Harris.
  2. Group Prayer_national anthem policyPlayers could form a prayer group and kneel in a circle as the anthem is played. Just to mess with everyone.
  3. Start off small, like protesting flat beer in the stadiums before gradually working their way up to racial injustice, social inequality, and the bigger ticket items.
  4. Team up with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (M.A.D.D) to announce that September 9th will promote NO ALCOHOL DAY in all stadiums to educate society on the concerns of alcohol abuse. Fans, owners, their revenue, should all be willing to work together for one day. After all, it’s Sunday.  The day of rest.
  5. If teams start to fine players by having them sit out games, test the theory by having Case Keenum kneel, and proposal_national anthem policyPaxton Lynch stand during the anthem. That’ll clarify Denver’s team policy.
  6. Make the entire stadium a “No Kneel Zone” and have security drag anyone away that violates the rule. Especially those guys who propose marriage from the stands.
  7. Anyone who stays in the locker room during the anthem is bound to be vilified. Pour a little coffee on Tom Brady’s jersey, or steal a shoe from Carson Wentz right before kick-off to change the conversation a little.
  8. The original message of the anthem protest has been lost in translation. One side has seen it as a disrespect to the military, country, and flag.  Protesting players could clarify things by playing the arrest of Sterling Brown, the Milwaukee Bucks rookie who was unjustly tased by local police for a parking violation and show it on the Jumbotron prior to taking a knee.
  9. The players could air Vince McMahon’s old XFL games instead of their own to emphasis the importance of product.
  10. Ryan Shazier_ national anthem policyAnd if the players want to play dirty, have Ryan Shazier, the Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker who was partially paralyzed after a football playing spinal injury, wheel-chaired onto the field in front of a national televised audience, fans, owners, and Roger Goodell. Then watch everyone sweat as Shazier struggles to stand for the anthem.  If he makes it, he’s a patriot that is making the league look foolish with its rules.  But imagine how the owners will look if he falls.

Nice work NFL.  You just made a controversial subject matter even worse.  Good luck with that.


Images via TheDenverPost,FillRow,Mic,Sportsnet

Alan Tapley is an educator, author, and blogger who has lived just outside of Boulder for the last twenty years.  His published work includes two novels, two children’s books, a series of cartoons in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and multiple sports related articles. His love for family and the state of Colorado is only matched by one thing, his passion for sports.  The first baseball game he ever attended was at Wrigley Field, before there were lights.  At the final Bronco game at the old Mile High, he allegedly cut out a piece of his seat in the South stands.  But regardless of being here for the Avalanche’s last Stanley Cup, the Rockies only World Series appearance, and all the Broncos’ Super Bowl Victories, his wife never fails to remind him that he wasn’t at the University of Colorado in 1990, like she was.  The year the Buffs football team won the National Championship.