NFL’s New Fine is the Worst Thing They Could Have Done


Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Colin Kaepernick kneels despite recent controversy.

Joey Pickel, Sentry Staff Reporter

In recent memory, no protest has affected the National Football League (NFL) as much as the movement started by former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback (QB), Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the Star Spangled Banner. Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem all started on August 26, with a preseason loss against the Green Bay Packers. When asked why he did not stand for the anthem, Kaepernick had this to say; “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” The public’s response to Kaepernick’s actions and comments was split. Some thought Kaepernick’s actions were unpatriotic and misrepresented American values, and others thought Kaepernick was merely exercising his right to protest. Soon, other NFL players around the league such as Houston Texans Pro Bowl Running Back Arian Foster and Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl Cornerback Marcus Peters followed suit and also kneeled during the anthem. Protests continued throughout the 2016 season and continued into the 2017 season after Kaepernick became an unsigned free agent and did not have a job in the NFL.

As of May 23, the NFL has implemented a fine for players who kneel during the anthem. If players do not want to be fined, they have to stay in the locker room and not enter the field during the playing of the anthem. NFL president Roger Goodell said this action was in response to misperceptions of the NFL and their political views. Goodell also took it a step further and said when this policy was voted upon, it was unanimous amongst NFL owners. This new policy has gained praise from officials like President Donald Trump, but has also received backlash from people calling it a violation of the first amendment.

It is crazy to think people consider protesting is unpatriotic, because in reality, protesting might be the most American thing one can participate in. Fifty years from now, this dark period will greatly affect the NFL’s image and may be a black chapter in their near sixty year history.

Through and throughout, protesting has been proven to be the most patriotic thing an American citizen can do.  The United States was built on protesting. If the Founding Fathers did not have the courage to write the Declaration of Independence, we most certainly would not be our own country. If people like Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass did not speak up against slavery, the U.S. would have continued to be a slave owning country. What if women like Tarana Burke and Ruth Bader Ginsberg had never stood up in protest to the pervasiveness of sexual assault and gender discrimination? The U.S. has been built and shaped by protesting.  There are numerous examples of that in the U.S.’s 235 year long existence. Protesting is patriotic. In that sense, NFL players were doing nothing but being patriotic.

More on the topic of the United States’ founding fathers; when Thomas Jefferson was writing the Constitution of The United States of America, he made it a large point that anyone on  American soil had the right to a peaceful protest as seen in the First Amendment. Seeing as though Kaepernick and the rest of the players kneeling during the National Anthem were not physically hurting anyone… is the NFL technically violating the Constitution?

History seems to have a strange way of repeating itself. On April 28, 1967, the New York State Athletic Commision and the World Boxing Association stripped Heavyweight Champion of the World Muhammad Ali of his much coveted title and suspended him from the sport of boxing for three years. Ali’s title and suspension was a result of him refusing to answer his draft notice and join the late 1960’s conflict in Vietnam. When asked why he would not respond to his call to action, Ali said this, “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong.” Essentially what Ali had just said was he did not agree with the US presence in Vietnam, and he did not want to add fuel to the fire. Ali was protesting, just as Kaepernick later did. Stripping Ali of his hard earned title and robbing him of three years of his prime still effects the New York State Athletic Commission and World Boxing Association’s reputations today… will this newly implemented fine damage the NFL’s reputation in fifty years? Only time will tell.

The problem with the NFL implementing the fine, is that they are not focusing on how this action will affect the NFL down the road. Time and time again, controversial decisions made by large sports organizations have tarnished their reputation down the line, and now will this tarnish the NFL’s?