I have written before about how I have a thing about the First Amendment, especially when it comes to people trying to crush free speech. Essentially, I feel we live in dangerous times, not because of the threat of a nuclear attack by an enemy nation or terrorism from extremist groups, but rather from the far right and our president. Theyare trying to create a nation where the Constitution only applies to those who are lock, stock and smoking gun barrel in total agreement with everything they say, do, and think. They want to end debate in this country.
That said, I do not believe Jemele Hill is a victim of this, even though the president wants us to think she finally got what she deserved. She ran afoul, biting the hand that feeds her. She knew when she signed on with ESPN she was not free to say anything that could hurt the profits of her employer and that is exactly what she did when she called for a boycott of advertisers of the Dallas Cowboys, many of who also advertise on ESPN. (Let me add, I am in total agreement with her)
However, Roger Goodell is a different issue. His letter to every team owner and the players was a clear reminder what players are doing with protests is hurting the league. Whenever people like Goodell make statements indicating it is time to come together, he is really saying it is time these protests end.
Like most other controversies he has mishandled, Roger just doesn’t get it. Roger just wants this to go away. However, since the National Anthem has nothing to do with what a player is paid for and because he has allowed protests to go on for a year, he is in no position to ask them to stop, let alone demand it. All his letter has done is encourage protestors to continue with what they are doing.
It gets worse. When Jerry Jones is trying to run point as the moral high ground, your league is in trouble. Here is a guy who employs felons of all sorts, has a team with twice as many player suspensions for league violations than the second closest team in the league, and who has knelt with players as recently as a few weeks ago claiming he would fire any of his guys if they do it again. Jerry may be fooling his pal in the White House, but he sure isn’t fooling anyone else. Do you really think he benches Dak Prescott if he stages a protest?
The NFL is the richest sports league in the world and pays its players less money than other major sports and refuses to offer guaranteed contracts, something that is part of the NBA and Major League Baseball. It’s not only the richest league, it is also the most physically dangerous and relies on players who more often than not come from the horrific environments they are looking to create change for. Roger Goodell might be okay with Breast Cancer Awareness month, but you can damn well bet he wants nothing to do with Black Lives Matter Month. He wants his players to be active members in their communities while not having any social opinions on the state of the nation.
Sorry Roger, but the general public is on to you. It’s also onto the little orange dictator in waiting who sits in the Oval Office. These flag protests may have begun as a symbol of a number of different concerns, but they have now become all about making sure the public knows protestors are united in their hatred for the person who is our president.
Giving protestors free voice is keeping alive what Trump would have us believe is fake news about what a horrifying leader he is. He may be able to fire anyone who works for him that he grows tired of, but he is beginning to see more than just athletes standing up to him.
If you thought Vice President Pence was a stand-up guy for walking out after players protested during the Colts and 49ers game, you are not the sharpest tool in the shed.
Considering the 49ers began this protest movement and are probably the most heavily protesting team in the NFL, it was a safe bet they would give Pence and his boss the excuse they were seeking to stage a protest of their own Who cares if it cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time when resources are spread thin from Puerto Rico to Northern California. The White House want us all to know they will not stand for not standing.
Oddly enough, this all falls into a master plan in which Trump and whatever he turns the GOP into lay claim to owning the flag and we are either with him and all he claims it stands for or we oppose him and everything he represents. This is meant to create another sharply divided electorate along the same basic lines as last year for his 2020 reelection. He may never win the popular vote, but Trump knows he just has to repeat the same electoral college victory to hold onto power.
Maybe Trump and his followers are smarting over the loss of another of their favorite flags, the stars and bars, and wants to make sure no one takes Old Glory from them. Maybe they dream of a day where the only stars on the flag represent the states that voted for him and are the only ones to have all the rights currently afforded to all our citizens.
Maybe he has a staff of Chinese sweat shop workers designing a new flag, one where there are no stars, but in their place, a picture of The Donald.
There is no way of knowing when the man in question is a angry fragile lunatic, desperate enough to say or do anything if it makes him wealthier and more powerful, even if it means trampling on our constitutional rights.
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.