Following the NFL’s new policy regarding protests happening during the national anthem, the NFL Players Association, as well as the league’s players themselves, have openly dismissed what they feel is an unfair ruling.
According to the policy, any protesting player must remain in the locker room during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” or be subject to fines at the league’s discretion.
Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey spoke out against the league’s ruling during an interview with CNN at a promotional event in London:
“I’m going to take a fine this year, why not? I’m going to protest during the flag. That’s what I’m going to say now.
“It’s not necessarily about the anthem, that’s where everybody’s messing up. The way that the justice system treats minorities is the issue that we have.”
Casey has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last three years, and is one of Tennessee’s best players. The Titans defensive lineman added, “I feel it’s not right, I don’t think it was a good decision for the NFL to come up with that ruling. But they have their reasons for what they’ve done.”
A University of Southern California alum, Casey signed a four-year, $60.4 million extension with Tennessee last season, is one of many NFL players protesting the judicial system of the United States, particularly police brutality and the racial inequality that has plagued the system for years.
The protests began when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench during the National Anthem during the 2016 NFL preseason. Eventually, his message spread with the help of social media, it developed into taking a knee, and players from around the league joined him in on-field protests.
Members of the NBA, MLB, NHL, and WNBA have all made shows of support for the message during the national anthem. USA women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe knelt before a match, and members of various college and high school athletic programs have done the same.
Kaepernick has since been, effectively, barred from returning to the NFL due to the media circus that any team who signs him would have to endure.
Jurrell Casey is one of many players to come out in direct contradiction with the NFL’s decision. Many players have been using this offseason to work off the field trying to remedy the original reason for the protest.
“I don’t want to cause controversy, but how about [the NFL] passed this stupid thing,” President Donald Trump said at a rally in Montana, “If you don’t respect the flag, or if you don’t like the country, or whatever it is, just go into the locker room!”
Trump added, “You know what? That doesn’t play. It doesn’t play. I think in many ways it’s worse.”
The President uninvited the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, who didn’t have a single player kneel in protest, from their White House visit. In fact, many Eagles players protested in other ways, including defensive end Chris Long’s show of support alongside safety Malcolm Jenkins.
All but one NFL owner voted on the new anthem policy this offseason, the only abstention was San Fransisco 49ers owner Jed York. New York Jets Chairman Christopher Johnson voted in agreement with the policy, but will pay the fines of any player who does protest on the field.
Many people have applauded the new rule as a chance to utilize the appropriate means to evoke change, rather than show disrespect to service men and women who feel slighted by the action, rather than the message.
In a statement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.”
According to an NAACP report, the U.S. makes up 5 percent of the world’s population, and it has 21 percent of the world’s prisoners. Also, African Americans are incarcerated at five-times the rate of white Americans.
America is a country divided. The National Football League is getting ripped for their handling of the protests, players are being scorned for protesting, and fans on either side of the aisle cannot see eye-to-eye.
With NFL training camp’s inching closer, something has to give. Only time will tell how long players like defensive star Jurrell Casey can endure heavy fines from the NFL office.