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The NFL wanted the national anthem issue to go away, but that’s not going to happen.
The league probably, wrongly, thought that enacting a policy would eliminate the story entirely and they wouldn’t have to think about it or worry about making President Donald Trump mad. Now there’s a new and predictable issue: At least one player is planning to ignore the policy and live with the punishment.
Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, who raised his fist after the anthem last year as part of players trying to bring attention to social issues, told CNN on Wednesday that he won’t let the policy stop his demonstration. The new policy states that players have to stand for the anthem and “show respect” or stay in the locker room if they want.
Who is Jurrell Casey?
Casey has been a fantastic player over his seven seasons with the Titans. He has made the Pro Bowl three times. He isn’t necessarily a household name because he plays defensive tackle, but he’s sure to get more attention now.
“I’m going to take my fine,” Casey told CNN at a promotional event in London, via The Tennessean. “It is what it is, I ain’t going to let them stop me from doing what I want to do. If they want to have these battles between players and organizations, this is the way it’s going to be.”
If he does, it opens up a new chapter of drama for the NFL, which wanted this issue to go away.
How would the NFL react?
The NFL will face a dilemma if Casey and others continue their demonstrations. The policy says players must “show respect” for the American flag and the anthem. Will a raised fist be a violation? What if it happens right after the anthem?
If Casey, or some other players, raise a fist and get fined, that will be a big story. If they raise a fist and aren’t fined, that’s a story. Those who stay in the locker room will be a story. Again, the NFL would have been better off just leaving the issue alone and letting those who are offended by a few players raising awareness for social issues to be offended. It wasn’t worth the league’s time or effort to try and make everyone happy.
The NFL can’t seem to stay out of its own way, and somehow it turned the anthem issue into a story that overshadows football for the third straight season. Well done.
A new issue for the league
Casey didn’t kneel for the anthem. He raised a fist after the anthem because he “wanted to be respectful,” The Tennessean said. If Casey is the only player, or one of a few, still demonstrating during or after the anthem, he’s going to be under a lot of fire.
The NFLPA didn’t like the policy and filed a grievance over it. The NFL, which wasn’t forward thinking enough to realize that this policy would ignite the entire story, surely doesn’t want to redo the policy and might have to punish players who aren’t following its policy. Bringing attention to social issues is important for many players, something the tone-deaf NFL didn’t seem to recognize.
Long story short, we might be looking at a year of anthem talk and controversy. Again.
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