Editor’s note: The NFL’s new rules for player protests generated a lot of mail from readers. Half the letters supported the league’s ban on on-field kneeling, with some specifically criticizing Editorial Page Editor Rick Christie’s May 27 commentary, “NFL owners fumble on kneeling, racial injustice.”
A third of the letters supported the players, and the rest were neutral.
Additional letters, omitted here for lack of space, can be found at https://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/opinion.
You struggle to understand that the NFL and its owners failed to properly manage disrespectful conduct by some of their salaried employees.
Professional players are paid to perform in a game before paying stadium fans and television audiences. Players are not paid to protest.
The NFL and team owners have every right to insist upon behavior that will reflect favorably on the NFL, teams and players during the game. Viewership of NFL games has declined from the player protests and the owners’ and NFL’s failure to manage this distraction from the games. This decline is further seen in ESPN’s paid subscriptions, where anchor Jemele Hill called President Trump a white supremacist.
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Professional sports and sports broadcasting are not social media platforms for employees to protest, vent and drive away business.
You find it worrisome that the NFL owners didn’t consider collective bargaining. Prior sessions with the players did not resolve the matter. You find it worrisome that the NFL has made a business decision. Yes, it is a business and the needs of the business drive decisions.
Sadly, you conclude with divisive racial statistics and end with “It ain’t over till it’s over.” What an ugly message to suggest more social unrest.
Unfortunately, you missed the opportunity to help guide misled players to work for justice in proper venues that would not be harmful to their professional careers and employment.
CHARLES LYDAY, BOCA RATON
The NFL succumbed to the bullying of President Trump in their rule of banning players kneeling on the field during the national anthem and banishing them to the locker room. He stated they are not patriotic,” they shouldn’t be playing and maybe they shouldn’t be in the country.”
This is from a man who was a draft dodger. How much more unpatriotic can one be? When he salutes a military person, he does not look them in the eye.
Over the years I may have disagreed with a president’s policy, but they always received my respect. In my opinion, President Trump, with his nefarious behavior, has brought dishonor to the office of the presidency.
This president brought the kneeling situation to the forefront at the beginning of this last season and caused a ruckus. Toward the end of the season, it was hardly talked about anymore. In fact, of the 32 teams, 1,696 active players on the field, only seven players kneeled, less than .5 percent.
So why did the NFL owners bring this up now? Was it to appease President Trump?
MARTY PHILLIPS, BOYNTON BEACH
Many today are hiding behind the First Amendment to enable inappropriate speech or demonstrations. The NFL players who kneel are in that category.
The reason that what they are doing is inappropriate is not their cause, but the venue they choose to do it in. The players are “at work” when they are playing a game. They should save their opinions when they are on their own time — not at work.
I suspect they do it in the stadium because they like the limelight. I venture to guess 95 percent of the players who kneel do nothing in their local community to combat the injustices they perceive. I can pretty much guarantee that any employee who took a knee every morning at work to protest something won’t be with their employer very long.
Perhaps the players can learn something from Muhammad Ali’s example. He perceived the war in Vietnam as unjust. He didn’t kneel or rant about it in the ring before every fight. He made his views known outside the ring on his own time.
JOE TRUBINSKY, BOCA RATON
In reference to the new NFL policy of having players go to the locker room for those not willing to stand for the national anthem, I firmly believe that this could very well be a way to end this “conflict” once and for all. It is an allowance for those players to show their support for their cause in private.
All the players that came to play that day, including those who chose to stay in the locker room, are paid employees for the NFL. As such, they “clocked” into work when they entered the stadium and “clock out” at the end of the game. They are on company time and subject to the code of conduct of the organization. When they took the job, they agreed to the code of conduct as any worker in the USA.
The true enjoyment of the game needs to be maintained and not made more complicated or challenged by those who wish to use their position to extend their views in any direction. It’s just football.
DIANE SIMPSON, LAKE WORTH
Although I was a lifelong fan of football, I did not watch any NFL football on television in 2017 because of disrespectful kneeling by the players during the national anthem.
An NFL team is a business, the players are its employees and the fans are the customers. My intent was to put financial pressure on NFL owners to do something to curb the on-field kneeling during the anthem.
Players had made self-serving statements that disrespect of the flag and the anthem was not their intent, but my perception was that the kneeling was indeed disrespectful.
I agree that there is an issue in this country with police interaction with minority males and that the players have a right to protest. There are many actions that players could have taken to protest that would not be so offensive to veterans such as me.
EDWARD SCOVILLE, TEQUESTA
Kudos to The Palm Beach Post for publishing the letter from James Broadhurst. The hypocrisy he alludes to is a thorn in the side to all of us who served in Vietnam. (“Trump dodged military service but wants NFL players to stand,” May 27)
It is easy to talk tough about NFL players who protest, but, apparently, not so easy when your country calls upon an individual to serve.
As a combat officer in Vietnam, with heel spurs, I am insulted to hear that protests (which is a freedom we fought for) are now decried. I guess George Washington, who protested against England’s rule of the United States, would qualify him for expulsion from this country under the present administration.
EDWARD STAFFIRE, PALM BEACH GARDENS
President Trump demands NFL players stand during the national anthem or else leave the country. To be fair, why not require this of all the fans at the game?
That, of course, would be absurd and seriously un-American. Our democratic right to peaceful and lawful dissent would be violated.
We need to avoid all this nonsense by realizing that an NFL football game is just that, a game, and not a venue for patriotism or social activism. The game should not be sullied by interests that are relevant elsewhere.
KILIAN CURREY, PALM BEACH GARDENS
Like so many others, I happen to be one of the people that have stopped watching NFL games.
I am not opposed to the football players exerting their First Amendment rights to kneel as a justifiable protest against the continuing unlawful police treatment of innocent people. What I, and I am sure many others, have come to realize is that the game of football is responsible for increasing numbers of our sports heroes, along with several Hall of Fame players, ending their days severely damaged both physically and mentally unable to function and often suicidal.
We are seeing reductions in the number of players in midget and Pop Warner team numbers as parents become aware of what a life of a football player could mean for their child. It was always a game of risks with broken bones and injured hurt bodies, but the NFL was long in denial regarding the accumulated injury to the brain.
Now we know the cruel facts of what continued collisions can cause, and I, for one, don’t want to encourage such activities. The owners’ investment in the game and the profits they take makes the players’ protest an easy excuse for the reduction in revenues, but the demise of the sport is due more likely to the fact that many of us do not want to see our sporting heroes suffer such dismal endings.
ALLEN R. SMITH, PORT ST LUCIE