The NFL is being squeezed by boycotts from both sides over anthem protests

Before their season-opening game began, the Cleveland Browns played a video on their stadium screens featuring players of various races and ethnicities to celebrate unity, diversity and Equality. Athletes have made statements such as “our differences make us stronger” and “no matter what race you are or whatever your gender, we are all made equally” as patriotic music played and an American flag was raised. The Gulf War veteran and commander of VFW Post 3345 in the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville boycotted Sunday’s game because Browns players got to their knees while singing the national anthem before a pre-season game. Thousands of other football fans also skipped Week 1 games, but for the opposite reason – the NFL’s removal of Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers defender who sparked a wave of protests last season by kneeling. to highlight racial inequality. Across the board, the NFL is being squeezed by boycotts from both sides of the political spectrum. Sports are often the place where America puts its differences aside to enjoy a spirit of competition and community, but even the ubiquitous NFL is threatened by these unusually divisive times. – and there’s no easy exit for a tournament where the majority of players are black and the audience is mostly white. “It’s tough, the decisions the NFL will have to make going forward,” Randall Telfer, who appeared in the video, told The Undefeated.

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“At the end of the day, it’s politics. When it becomes political, you will have opposing views. You have people who feel strongly about what they believe in. It’s hard to change that mindset,” said Telfer. “The emergence of black athletes since Trayvon Martin’s death as politically conscious activists, along with a right-wing shift in the politics of the country has occurred. during this same period. So it brings us to this point that the NFL, the most popular sport in the country, has become the site of all this political tension. “, including the Seattle Seahawks’ head of defense, Michael Bennett, who said he was recently roughed up and verbally abused by Las Vegas police during a video-recorded arrest. Fourteen other players stood. near teammates protested in support, including 10 members of the San Francisco 49ers, who gathered around Eric Reid to his knees to safety. they locked hands with police and military members, with team owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam standing nearby, as the video played.A crowd protested in support of Kaepernick outside the Chicago Bears-Atlanta Falcons game in Chicago. Black-owned businesses from Chicago to Brooklyn, New York, shut down NFL games Baseball legend Henry Aaron followed suit A boycott tweet from activist Shaun King was retweeted over 19,000 times A #NoKaepernickNoNFL petition on has reached over 177,000 signatures. this issue,” said Atlanta activist Gerald Griggs, who helped organize the protest in Chicago. “When Mr. Kaepernick decided to knee, and they decided not to handle it in the best way, they became part of this larger conversation. They could easily say, ‘We welcome Kaepernick’s expression of his First Amendment rights,’ but no, they want to blackmail him. ” City Chiefs beat defending champion New England Patriots – down from 25.2 million who watched the first game last season. Griggs said: “It’s just the beginning of their economic turmoil. need to take a better account of their economic situation.” At this point, he wouldn’t simply be satisfied with the end of Kaepernick’s exile: “That’s one of the goals. But I think it translates to a second strategy of wanting the federation to deal with the problems. The systemic issue of racial injustice and police brutality We are pleased with what happened in Cleveland. [with the video], but don’t think it’s gone far enough. “So does Zvoncheck – but in the opposite direction. He saw the video of the Browns after the game and called it “beautiful”. But he says his VFW post will not show any football until the owners or federation quell the protests. “When are we going to turn the matches back on? When we feel like everything is going in the right direction. He said… About 500 appeals, emails and money donations poured into the Strongsville VFW post, Zvoncheck said, and other veterans groups joined in on their outages. They were part of a movement against protesting players represented in articles and social media posts calling on “patriots” to turn off their TVs. “This all started last year with Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the national anthem. That didn’t sit well with us, but it’s a person,” said Zvoncheck. “It was definitely not our team at the time. But to see how this has evolved among players over the past year or so, then to see what happened a few weeks ago with the Browns – nearly a dozen of them decided to pray in song. instead of standing and respecting. what’s going on – it’s not right for us. “Telfer was one of the Browns players who supported the athletes on their knees by standing next to them throughout the song. As the backlash unfolded, Telfer and other players met with the team’s owners and executives, including black head coach Hue Jackson and black football executive vice president Sashi Brown, to find another way of charting. police and plans for more community participation. Telfer hopes the results could help lift the NFL out of its political pickiness. “I think the idea of ​​unity and equality in our videos is something that everyone can achieve. I don’t speak for the NFL, but I think that message will resonate with a lot of people,” he said. Football is a microcosm of what we want our country to be, groups of people from all walks of life coming together and working for a common goal,” said Telfer. “That’s what we want for our community.” Browns vice president of communications Peter John-Baptiste said more and more players are realizing they have the platform to make a positive difference. they know they can have an impact on society,” says John-Baptiste. “So people will take advantage of that. It’s a really powerful thing. “But that attention is not guaranteed. NFL ratings fell last season, with some studies indicating that player protests caused or at least contributed to the slide. An NFL spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Speaking to Arizona Cardinals season ticket holders in August, Goodell said that “we have to understand that there are people who have different views. … The national anthem is a special moment for me. That is a point to be proud of. It was a really important moment. But we also have to understand on the other side that people have rights and we want to respect those rights. When asked how the NFL has handled the dueling boycotts, USC professor Boyd said, “The NFL hasn’t handled anything. They didn’t do anything. It was more a lack of action than action. ” After 21 years in prison, former No Limit rapper Mac Phipps is figuring out what it means to be free Read NowThe NFL is being squeezed by boycotts from both sides over the national anthem protests Sheryl Swoopes and the legacy of her signature shoe Read NowThe NFL is being squeezed by boycotts from both sides over the national anthem protests He notes that players’ head injuries and domestic violence are also eroding the NFL’s standing, and he recalls a moment in the 1980s when Howard Cosell, one of the most influential voices in sports, said he can no longer announce boxing matches because of the brutality. “The NFL is at the top right now, and they’ll be top tomorrow,” Boyd said. “But will they be at the top in 20 or 30 years? We cannot answer that question. We can stay ahead when people change their mind. “The NFL is in a precarious moment.”

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