Don’t look now, but the carefully managed image of the National Football League continues to take major hits after the likes of San Francisco back-up quarterback Colin Kaepernick (and now other players) are deciding to disrespect the National Anthem by sitting/kneeling while it is being played.
The NFL, which has wrapped itself in the American flag and patriotism for decades, might be facing its largest branding/image issue ever. It has successfully withstood players committing murder, rape, domestic violence, child abuse, dog fighting, et al, but the current issue slaps the military and police in the face, which goes to the heart of its loyal fan base.
During a recent pre-season game Kaepernick (left) knelt during the Anthem while the San Diego Chargers were holding a “Salute to the Military” night. The NFL seems impotent to take action due to political correctness.
The Dallas Cowboys wanted to put stickers on their helmets to honor five policemen who were gunned down. However, the NFL demanded the helmets could only be worn at practices and not during pre- or regular-season games. However, Kaepernick has even started wearing socks that portray the police as pigs.
However, Kaepernick has even started wearing socks that portray the police as pigs.
The NBA, according to broadcaster Dan Patrick, demands its players stand for the National Anthem or face fines. So far that seems to keep the players in check.
This Anthem flap follows on the heels where it was revealed the NFL actually had charged the military (taxpayers) to perform at stadiums over the years. In fact, the NFL charged the Department of Defense $5.4 million to honor soldiers during games (link) the past four seasons.
Although the NFL had to return some of the money after the scandal was revealed, it still did not factor in the millions of dollars in expenses for jets to fly over stadiums prior to games.
“Our standard line was we were flying over stadiums as part of training exercises so it didn’t cost taxpayers any money,” a retired Navy pilot who has flown over several stadiums revealed to Bottom Line. “That was BS. Do you really think you would fly training missions over stadiums with 80,000 people? You fly them in unpopulated areas.”
So far many media outlets (including USA Today and ESPN) seems to be supporting the players under the guise of free speech. However, in this politically charged election year, the majority of fans and social media pundits seem to be responding in the opposite direction.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump weighed in on the Kaepernick controversy and suggested Kaepernick might be better off leaving the country if he is so dissatisfied with it (link). As expected, Hillary Clinton is trying to play it safe and not comment on the Anthem issue. Ironically, Kaepernick has remarked that he believes she should be put in prison (link).
The NFL might be the most powerful league in sports, but the constant barrage of negative publicity could eventually take its toll.
As long as sponsors and advertisers continue to shell out money the NFL will continue to thrive. Only when the NFL is hit in its pocketbook will it take action.
Until then–and only then– the fans can boo all they want and nothing will change.