Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Oh Say Can You See Why the NFL Doesn’t Get It?

The issue of players kneeling during the national anthem is front and center again due to the NFL’s zest to please everyone, including any and all potential paying customers.



Embed from Getty Images

The national anthem is the hot-button topic in the NFL again, but that’s not the case where other games are being played.

At PNC Park on Monday –– Memorial Day –– the Star-Spangled Banner was presented to an attentive, respectful audience, and played out without incident (at least that’s what it looked like from the concourse to those filing in just before the first pitch).

At Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night, there was also no hint of controversy (at least not any broadcast by NBC). The NHL quite likely could have pulled off a second anthem sans turmoil had the playing of “O Canada” been necessary.

And in the NBA, presumably, they’re managing to stage the games without much of a national anthem distraction (I don’t watch the NBA much, but such a development would have surely cracked the news cycle by now, wouldn’t it?).

Only in the NFL, which is currently conducting voluntary practices that for many of the players are perceived as mandatory, is the proper protocol for the anthem a subject of great debate and consternation.

“We’re the highest profile league in the country,” Steelers president Art Rooney II maintained to a small group of reporters last week, “and I think that’s certainly a factor on this subject and other subjects. People react to positions taken in the NFL and by people who are connected with the league, no doubt about it.”

He has a point.

But the NFL has still dropped the ball on “Anthem-gate,” and the responsibility for the unbecoming fumble falls on the owners and the players alike.

The owners invited contempt when they announced their new policy –– stand and respect the flag and the anthem on the field or stay in the locker room or somewhere else out of the public’s eye –– without any input from or consultation with the NFLPA. A little give and take on the subject would have gone a long way. It might have even allowed the anthem flap to eventually fade away, something it appeared to be well on the way to doing late last season.

It’s front and center again due to the NFL’s zest to please everyone, including any and all potential paying customers.

As for the players, while their hearts and their social consciousness may indeed be in the right place, a few too many have failed to recognize or overstepped the line between activism and conduct unbecoming as dictated by an employer.

Steelers guard Ramon Foster isn’t one of them.

He recognizes the “constitutional rights” argument associated with taking a knee to protest perceived injustice, but he also recognizes the argument doesn’t end there.

“There’s also workplace rules, too,” Foster said. “Weed is legal in certain states, still can’t smoke it in the NFL.”

No one associated with the Steelers thinks this will fester into the type of issue that can fissure the locker room or otherwise distract.

“We’ll handle it like pros,” Foster insisted. “It won’t be a situation for us. Other teams, we’ll see what happens. I’m sure when the summer breaks everybody will voice their opinions. And I’m sure it’ll be a highlight opening day (in September). Our thing is just, minimize the issue.

“We’re here to play a game.”

If the NFL is lucky, everyone will remember that eventually.

The league has itself to blame for having forgotten as much in the first place.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Toppers That Take the Cake

Over the traditional bride and groom standing on top of your cake? Try some of these different ideas for cake toppers.

Renting in Pittsburgh? You're Getting a Great Deal

The Steel City ranks first in Zillow’s 10 Most Affordable Markets for Renters list.

Iconic Pittsburgh Meteorologist Joe DeNardo Dies at 87

DeNardo was well known in Pittsburgh long before a series of promotional TV spots cemented his place among the city's broadcasting icons.

Olczyk Embraces Awareness, Understanding to Fight Cancer

Olczyk found out last August, in the wake of a six-hour surgery that removed 14 inches of his colon and “a tumor the size of my fist,” the severity of what he was suddenly confronting.

Best of the 'Burgh 2018: Readers' Choice Poll Results

Diners, food trucks, dive bars and more. Here's the most popular stuff in town.

Conor Lamb Doesn't Want to Know How You Voted for President

The new congressman discusses his upset victory –– and his thoughts on the state of the Democratic Party in 2018.

Restaurant Review: The Twisted Frenchman is an Ambitious Endeavor

Andrew Garbarino moved his fine-dining restaurant into a multimillion-dollar new home. Does it live up to its new digs?

Vietnam Vets – The Warriors No One Wanted to Thank

When veterans returned from Vietnam, they didn't often hear the phrase “Thank you for your service.” But now, Pittsburgh veterans think people are learning to separate the war from the warrior.

Web Exclusive: Pittsburgh Vets Recount Their Time in Vietnam

From a medic who fainted when his blood was drawn during his physical to an Army nurse, area Vietnam veterans share stories about their time in country.

Sadie's Tree: A Plea for Kindness in Memory of a Bullied Teen

In an obituary read round the world, the family of Bedford, Pa., teen Sadie Riggs called out those who had bullied her and pleaded for people to be kind to one another. A year after Sadie’s death, lessons remain to be learned from her suicide.

What Anthony Bourdain Meant to Me

Reflecting on the loss of a person so many of us admired.

Man, There's a Lot Going on at Zone 28

The relaunched entertainment complex in Harmarville is casting a wide net, with some success.

Watch: Mrs. Rogers Charms Jimmy Fallon in Late Night Debut

The wife of the late Fred Rogers is in New York City to help promote the new documentary “Won't You Be My Neighbor.” During an appearance on the ”Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” she shared the lovely significance of Mister Rogers and the number 143.

The Carnegie Science Center is Becoming Even More Futuristic

The PPG Science Pavilion will include four floors of learning labs, exhibits and event space.

Burn Notice: Pittsburgh's Traffic Ticket Hot Spots

Traffic citations by Pittsburgh police are up 40 percent since last year.