Everyone worried about the effect of COVID on football.
But it looks like good old-fashioned politics will be the death of the NFL.
Recently, the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, came out in a complete 180 and announced the NFL was wrong to discourage players from kneeling.
He even went so far as to encourage players to peacefully protest.
Now, Coach Ron Rivera of the Washington Redskins is following suit. He’s announced that he fully supports players that choose to kneel during the national anthem.
Here’s the full story from Fox News:
Washington Redskins head coach Ron Rivera has made it known that he sides with his players.
Rivera, who will enter his first year as the man in charge in Washington, said that he will support his players who decide to kneel for the national anthem this upcoming season.
He already confirmed his stance on George Floyd’s death on May 25 while in the custody of Minneapolis police, and the ensuing nationwide protests, by telling NBC Sports, “We cannot be afraid to say it so I will say it again, Black Lives do matter.”
Future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson, who is currently on the Redskins’ roster, said that he will kneel during the national anthem this season, according to the Houston Chronicle.
“Years ago, seeing (Colin) Kaepernick taking a knee, now we’re all ready to take a knee together going into this season without a doubt,” Peterson said.
Will anyone even be watching football after all of this?
They had it right the first time when they mandated that players stand for the national anthem.
It’s a shame to see the NFL, a once great American organization, cower in the face of Black Lives Matter.
Check out the latest on Twitter over the matter:
CBS even reported that Roger Goodell himself may even participate in kneeling:
We do not know, for certain, when football will return. No one knows if Week 1 of the NFL season will take place as presently scheduled. Will stadiums be empty? Will COVID-19 return for a second wave? Will the season conclude as normal, with a Super Bowl in February?
What we do know is that at some point NFL players will stand on a sideline before the start of a weekend of games. Nearly 100 of them will be on the field prior to kickoff. Games will be played again, somehow, sometime, someway. Eventually.
And when that occurs, players will kneel. Based on what I am hearing from the player and agent community, I believe they will kneel en masse in a large-scale display of solidarity with those who continue to protest in the streets against police brutality and the systematic killing of people for the color of their skin. So many NFL players and, now, even coaches and front office types are actively engaged in the movement sweeping the country and the world, walking and shouting for change, that there is a strong sense there is no going back now.
Following Roger Goodell's statement late last week, when he read back what the faces of the league asked him to, in what many have perceived as a mea culpa for the NFL's earlier statement in the aftermath of George Floyd's killing by police in Minnesota, there does not seem to be much gray area or room to equivocate about the NFL's official stance on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. Nor on Colin Kaepernick's personal, silent, peaceful statement which started this all (even though Goodell has yet to mention Kaepernick's name in connection to it as protests sprung up around the world these last weeks).
Indeed, Goodell's message, admitting the league was "wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier" and then encouraging "all to speak out and peacefully protest," doesn't appear to leave much wiggle room as to what will be condoned. Shortly after Goodell posted his 81-second video, I heard back from some officials on Park Avenue who said that, yes, in fact, the NFL is out of the business of sanctioning or discouraging any player from taking a knee, just as players like Eric Reid and Kenny Stills did a season ago without penalty (the fact that Reid remains unsigned is worth noting, of course, along with Kaepernick's three-year banishment from the league).
When Goodell says, "I personally protest with you and want to be a part of the much-needed change in this country," I know some current and former players believe that to be a message of intent that Goodell would, in fact, be willing to take a knee in Week 1, or whenever the commissioner is able to travel to games as he normally would and whenever there are anthems being played again. Sources who were involved in various online calls between Goodell and league employees tell me that the commissioner capitulated on virtually everything he was asked to do by them, and understood what needed to be done at this critical juncture. "The only thing he fell short on was signing Kap," said one person involved in a large-scale call.