The NFL and its position in American history

The NFL may be reaching a point of inflection in its relationship with American society, and the current administration.
Donald Trump, who has an animus against the NFL from the time when he tried to compete against it with the USFL, is engaging in flagrantly nonsensical excoriations of the NFL and its players.
He regards the blackballing of Colin Kaepernick as a Good Thing, and apparently thinks that proposing that players who refuse to stand for the National Anthem should be fired is perfectly reasonable. In reality it is blatantly unconstitutional crypto-fascist browbeating.
Despite obsequious financial tribute having been paid by a number of NFL owners to Donald Trump, in the form of numerous contributions to his campaign and Inauguration, Trump clearly sees the NFL as an organization that is ripe for public bullying by him.
The underlying issue is that close to 70% of the NFL’s on-field labor force is non-white, and many of that labor force are fed up with endemic racism in the USA. There is also a clear dichotomy between the “grunt” positions, and the “glamour positions, as explained in this article. (Guess where the white guys are concentrated).
The absence of Colin Kaepernick from the field of play in the NFL this season has not ended the anthem protests. The underlying resentments of the players have been ignored by a president who is clearly a nativist white supremacist. He is more interested in criticizing Colin Kaepernick (and by extension, the entire group of protesting players) than he is in criticizing fascist murderers. The double standard and preening hypocrisy is blatant.
The NFL cannot fire the protesting players, because they have no current legal basis for doing so, and even if they did have a legal basis under the CBA, firing the players would be ruled an unconstitutional abuse of power, since it is established by multiple SCOTUS rulings that nobody can be forced to stand for the National Anthem, recite the Pledge of Alliegance or salute the flag.
Firing any players would most likely trigger a labor stoppage, which is not what the NFL wants or needs during the season.
The NFL brought this series of events upon itself by continually and persistently wrapping itself up in the flag over a period of decades, and. more recently, pandering to the military by accepting military sponsorship for patriotic displays at NFL games. That was, of course, profitable for the NFL, but nobody bothered to consider the long-term impacts. The NFL did not start expecting players to stand for the national anthem until they began accepting money from the armed forces in 2009.
As a result, the NFL has created expectations that they are now expected to uncritically support not only the military, but the idea of the National Anthem and the flag representing uncritical obsequious deference to the current administration and the USA.
This whole ceremonial dispute is really about the downside of paid patriotism.
With its ratings declining, the NFL is between a rock and a hard place. They probably fear that pandering to the POTUS will further alienate not only a large percentage of players, but also a segment of the fan base. (Like me). On the other hand, they probably fear that defying the POTUS will lead to more conservative fans boycotting the sport.
This is not an easy dilemna. However, the long-term question for the NFL is quite a simple one. Do they want to be on the right or the wrong side of history? They have to make a decision about whether they want to be an inclusive meritocracy, or whether they want to kow-tow to the crypto-fascist rantings of a nativist President. If they decide to support the POTUS, they may gain favor in the short term, but then I am done with the NFL in any way shape or form. As far as I am concerned, they will forever be in my rear-view mirror.
I am pretty sure that the NFL will not be taking my views into account. However, in this era where corporations are operating in a sharply politicized societal environment, they may have to make political directional decisions. The NFL has that decision to make. Right now, I cannot and will not support the NFL until they, at a minimum, admit that they blackballed Colin Kaepernick by ensuring that he is signed to an NFL team’s active roster.


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