If the NFL owners thought they came up with a solution this week that will make disappear the issue of players’ game-day protests, the billionaires are dumber than the inventors of the adobe submarine.
In the benign NFL calendar period of organized team activities, when it’s all about hope and fluffy spring clouds, the owners’ new anthem policy inflamed all sides anew.
The change created an opening for the Divider in Chief, Donald Trump, to bulldoze through, praising Wednesday morning the owners’ plan while damning the players: “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing. You shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”
A few hours later, Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin had a retort.
“He’s an idiot,” he said, “plain and simple.”
Usually one to run around an obstacle, Baldwin went freight train.
Baldwin stood for the anthem throughout last season while working with the league and the new Players Coalition to create an $89 million fund to help non-profits deal with grassroots issues of social injustice. He was crestfallen at the owners’ lame plan and Trump’s suggestion of deportation, sensing a full regression to the convulsive political drama of September.
“When you stoke the fire and inflame a gap that was really dissipating at the time, you cause more problems,” he said at the interview podium after the OTA practice Wednesday at team headquarters. That’s why I say I think the NFL missed it.”
The NFL’s change in game policy to require all personnel to stand “respectfully” for the national anthem, while giving protesters the option of remaining in the locker room, even irked QB Russell Wilson, the formeer human Hallmark card who has grown a little edgier over the past year.
Asked whether the NFL is telling players to shut up, he said, “Pretty much. I think that’s part of it. It seems that way.”
Baldwin was appalled at Trump’s deportation idea.
“For him to say that anybody who doesn’t follow viewpoints, or his constituents’ viewpoints, should be kicked out of the country, it’s not very empathetic,” he said. “It’s not very American-like, to me. It’s not very patriotic. It’s not what this country was founded upon.
“It’s kind of ironic to me that the president of the United States is contradicting what our country is really built on.”
Coach Pete Carroll was more diplomatic, emphasizing the need for more listening and empathy. But Trump’s rhetoric, reminiscent of the Vietnam War drivel by war hawks, “America: Love it or leave it,” dismayed him.
“It’s sometimes hard to take the perspectives that are out there in a meaningful way,” he said politely.
Baldwin, who has put in countless hours contributing to community initiatives as well working with NFL executives to turn protest into genuine progress, was crushed by commissioner Roger Goodell’s statement banishing would-be protesters to the locker room, or risk fines (amounts unknown) for the team if they demonstrate publicly.
“I can’t lie that it was emotional for me yesterday to read it,” Baldwin said. “Specifically the part where he says it was disappointing that our (players’) narratives had been misunderstood, that our players were unpatriotic, which he stated was completely false. But in the same breath, in his next statement, he said everyone will stand and respect the flag, as if what we were doing before was disrespectful.
“It pulls on the heartstrings. The demonstrations — the reason why we were having the conversations we were having — was because there was a loss of life. It was never about disrespecting the flag, or the military, or anything in that regard. It was about the loss of life in a particular community. There was frustration. Enough is enough.”
Baldwin, son of a Florida police officer, was referring to the fatal shootings of unarmed African American men by police that ignited anger in minority communities over the past several years.
Since Trump in September called protesting players “sons of bitches” who should be fired, team owners have struggled to find a way to appease the fans mad at protesters and tuning out games, while not alienating a high-profile workforce that is 70 percent black.
Since anthem policy is not part of the collective bargaining agreement with the players union — unlike the NBA, where players negotiated away their right to demonstrate on the court — the owners had no obligation to consult with players before amending the game-operations manual. But Baldwin suggested it would have been smart to do have done so, at least informally.
“It is just disappointing that the NFL has not seen the majority of the players in this locker room, and how this (policy change) impacts them,” he said. “The NFL was reluctant to reach out to those players and see why this matters to them so much.
“I will speak on behalf of those who did not take a knee, those who did not demonstrate in any other way — I didn’t take a knee, I didn’t raise a fist, I didn’t sit down. I stood. I’m telling you that I’m disappointed in the NFL’s policy, because (of) the way that they went about it, and the lack of communication they had with the players who they’re supposed to represent.”
Owners assumed they knew what the players would say, but neglected to offer the courtesy of a respectful consultation. Then they changed the anthem protocol in a way that appeared to pander to the president and his base, only to have their effort blown up by more Trump insults and threats to protesting players, some of whom this fall may defy the edict. That would mean the NFL can fine the team, forcing an owner to choose between losing cash or losing a player to alienation.
So much for the optimism of May football.
Trump and Richie Incognito have a lot in common: both mental, believing the government is spying on them.
Richie seems to be qualified for the next Cabinet vacancy.
A paranoid racist. Checks off all the boxes.
Your reference to Vietnam was on the money, Art. Protests cost some lives then, and I hope we aren’t headed for the same thing again. As stated, I hoped they would find a better way to protest, which ironically Baldwin and those who huddled with him accomplished, and I hoped it would catch on. I support their cause, but they’ve constructed an awkward shaped snowball to roll down the hill and innocent people may get crushed under it. That would only set things back . . .
A spontaneous social issues protest is by definition not orderly nor planned. All movements are chaotic and often fractured, and especially one where the majority membership won’t last a year in the industry. The fact that they got it this far is amazing, especially against the colossus of the NFL.
Roseanne is out of a job today. Another individual qualified for the next Trump cabinet position. And she already comes recommended by Trump.
Well… the government is spying on us. That’s just a fact.
Art, I hope you remember, as I do, the countless NCAA football and basketball games in the late sixties and early seventies where entire student sections (of all races) sat during the anthem to protest the war in Vietnam, a war to which they were about to be sent. Not standing for the flag seems rather tame considering what African Americans deal with on a day-to-day basis. I read somewhere that Gandhi was not protesting food and Rosa Parks was not protesting the bus. And that the American colonists in the 18th century were not protesting tea. These men (and women in the stands) are not protesting the flag; rather, they are protesting the fat white thumb on the scales of justice. The NFL screwed up here, just as Nixon did when National Guard troops were sent to Kent State.
Thanks for sharing the history, Alan. Lots of people get wrapped around symbols, because they’re easier to attach one’s own meaning. Issues are more complex and nuanced, and harder to be owned.
I recall some burned flags that incited counter-riots.
There’s nothing new here, just newcomers.
“Tyranny is the deliberate removal of nuance.” – Albert Maysles #russellbrand
If being “an idiot:” is what it takes to be a multi-billionaire with an incredible wife, sign me up!
“Idiot” is a partial list. You also need to be an adolescent grifter and self-absorbed reprobate. Do you check those boxes, too?
stay out of politics Art – it is not becoming.
It has to do with the NFL, or did you not catch that?
Ah, 1dumbguy, you’re such an idiot just when I was beginnin’ ta have hope. Art ain’t gonna stay outta politics, an’ neither is us . . .
Such an erudite comment, the world thanks you for your depth……..
Yeah, Art, it’s really classy when the President of the United States calls NFL players sons of bitches and threatens deportation, but it’s unbecoming of you as a sportswriter to comment.
Show me the bright line you don’t want me to cross, coolguy. Then show it to Trump.
Wait. Do we know Trump is a billionaire? Don’t we need to see his taxes first, or are we now accepting this as an article of faith?
And here I thought all the snowflakes had melted by now. The only problem I see here is based on your comment, it indicates you were a Hillary supporter – I would not advertise that. Oh, but in Seattle, you also voted for the Clowncil and the pathetic string of “Mayors”, so at least you are consistent.
Ha! Thank you for making America great again, 1coolguy. Enjoy the three-day weekend!
Stay out of politics 1coolguy. It’s not becoming.
It looks like you’ve already signed up.
Baldwin is correct…”plain and simple.” And, Trump’s former Secretary of State and Chief of Staff agree.
Unlike what others have suggested in this thread, I *DO NOT* think Art should be silent as to political issues. Life is intertwined; it’s not as though living, and politics, and sports, and corporate policies can all be put in neat boxes. It’s all interrelated. If people want to talk about “disrespecting the flag,” the federal statute on the matter (36 U.S.C. sec. 301) is worded in terms of “should” (a recommendation, not a requirement) … NOT “shall” or “must”. Most foam-truck-driver-hat- wearing tools I’ve seen at pro sports games do not even put their hand where it is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be over the heart, and most of the tools have their arm more horizontal, like they are pledging allegiance to their pancreas.
Keep insulting half the country. See where it gets ya.
Foam truck-driver-hat-wearing tools = half the country? That’s the kind of math that could make one believe Trump got more votes than Billary and earned a mandate! Far more people voted for Anyone But Trump than for Trump, but this is the kind of thing that happens when the alternative is Billary. What’s that, Hillary? You think its a good idea to put Bill back in the White House with time on his hands to get his hands on things like interns? That’s nice. Solid plan, there, Democrats.
The point is this: A lot of those complaining about the actions of a minority of players are not even performing the movements suggested for the National Anthem correctly, themselves! I think that’s quite a valid point. Some might even use the word “hypocrisy”.
Apparently, it can get you the presidency.
Why is half the country insulted by the truth?
Politics and sports always have been intertwined. The Greeks 3,000 years ago paused wars to stage the original Olympics. The modern renewal has always had athletes march under national flags, also a political statement. Political-based decisions compromised two modern Olympics.
And the NFL’s decision to ramp up its pre-game hype with more military themes was a blatant ploy to conservative politicians and fans, even though no behavior limits were put on drunks in the stands.
It won’t happen but I would LOVE to see every player on every team take a knee for the first game of the season and DARE the league to fine them.
Or for every player on every team to stay in the locker room for the first game of the season and see what the league thinks of that.
Either way, the NFLPA should take a stand and try to get all the players to do something collectively to send a message to the league AND to Trump.
I’ll throw my two in to make it 4.
A universal boycott would be dramatic, but there are Trump fans on every team, and others who think a protest gesture involving the anthem is misplaced. But a full boycott would do a lot for the union in standing up to the owners in all business aspects.
Let’s get the basics out of the way first: Racism is real and exists at a level that most white people don’t want to recognize. I agree with Baldwin that the NFL blew it on this issue, and that our President is, to say the least, unhelpful. The protests don’t bother me, but I still don’t understand what the protesters want. Social justice is a little too nebulous a term, and training police officers to be a little less trigger happy only goes so far.
If the players want to really affect change they are in a unique position to do so, but going about it the wrong way IMO. While addressing the issue of police killings, why not address the issues in black society that are at least partially responsible for the rate of confrontation with police: generational welfare, the alarming rate of single mothers/absent fathers, disdain for authority/police, black on black murder. More black males are killed by other black males annually in Chicago (my home town) than were killed nationwide by police in the past decade. Black males are five times more likely to attack a police officer than any other demographic group.
NFL players could have a huge impact on black society and young black men by directing their message toward them. That’s only one side of the issue, but people pay a lot more attention to your concerns if you’re trying to clean up your own house at the same time.
You nailed it Mark. All the players have accomplished is rhetoric about standing or sitting for the national anthem. But the players actually DO nothing to help what they are kneeling for. You are just kneeling. Yey awareness. Now actually get in your community and DO something (think Cliff Avril and homeless building in Haiti).
ESPN and local sports radio are always looking for players to be on their shows. Why don’t the players go on them and announce all players are doing ride alongs with police during the offseason. This would accomplish multiple things. First would be positive interaction with police and being seen in community. Second they would see what police are seeing on a daily basis in their community. And third, after seeing the issues first hand in their communities (all that you listed above and throw in homelessness, drugs, better employment) they can target how to start solving those issues.
Imagine the goodwill and public admiration towards players if they became part of the solution.
Come on Doug Baldwin, be a leader instead of name calling and complaining. You are better than that.
Baldwin is the wrong guy to pick on to support that point, if you have been reading at all about what he has actually done.
True, Bruce. Baldwin is exactly the kind of leader this movement needs. He blurted his anger, but Trump supporters can’t condemn him while their guy rages daily from a far more influential position.
Doug Baldwin is courageous and backs up his statements with positive action. Trump needs to shut up. We are agreed
Wasn’t meant to pick on Doug, He’s actually one of the guys that could promote this in a positive manner.
See my answer above to Stratton. You’re not paying attention.
Yes, what does Stratton know. He’s only from one of the poorest black areas of the country and was immersed in racism. You Art on the other hand are a white guy sitting behind a computer keyboard. Unless you want to share your bonafides in relation to black culture stick to sports Art.
Stratton, like your chicken and egg analogy. At this point it doesn’t matter, the chicken and egg have to get together to move forward and the NFL players could have a part in this.
You’re talking about foundational changes in a society that has been racist for 400 years, and you expect a few hundred football players to fix everything when too many white people don’t care?
The behaviors you cite are symptoms, not causes. How can you miss that, Mark?
Besides, the Players Coalition, an outgrowth of the protests, received $89 million in funding from the NFL for nonprofits to address some of the concerns you mention.
Mark, you sound like a bright guy. For your sake and for those you influence, please pay closer attention.
I don’t think I missed a thing Art. Symptoms or causes, chicken or the egg? Depends on your perspective. I grew up on the south side of Chicago and spent my young adulthood in the deep south working side-by-side with young black men for whom I have the greatest respect. I learned about racism first hand; been thrown out of bars because I brought my black friends. I have relatives who are cops. Most cops are scared to death when they have to confront a group of young black men; and young black men don’t expect to get a fair shake from the cops. Not surprising that tragedy is frequently the result. Both sides have to change.
The problem is not 100% white oppression; a big part of the problem is that too many blacks have given up and have no expectation of what we consider a normal role in society.
Money is obviously not the answer to the problems plaguing the black community. We’ve spent trillions in the ‘war on poverty’ to almost no avail. Generational welfare dependence is the measurable result. The players coalition is doing good things and I’m sure the money will help some, but mostly it makes the owners feel better and assuages the players. These athletes have enormous influence among young black men. I just believe they could use that influence more effectively. I’m not suggesting that NFL players can wipe out racism, but I am saying that a lot more white people will care if there is an attempt to clean up the issues that consistently leave young black men behind. That would be a good beginning with a long way to go.
Outside influences (government assistance, e.g.) help but are limited. The poor souls that live in blighted communities have to be part of their own solution, and I think that is where the athletes of the NFL, NBA, etc. can put their efforts to greatest effect.
Burn the commune down! #narcissussoakingwet
Yet you keep reading.
Doug Baldwin is 100% correct, unfortunately. I sincerely appreciate his thoughtful and well measured words, and wish that our commander in chief could find a way to put some much needed effort into choosing his words more wisely. This subject continues to get propagated by his poor words and the ignorant reactionary behavior of a self absorbed employer.
By not closing the loop with the players on this highly sensitive subject, the NFL has shown that they don’t respect the players nor care about them, unless forced to show contrition. The NFL is no different than any other major corporation that places little to no value in their worth, other than just being replaceable warm bodies fulfilling a necessary function. I doubt that every owner, all successful businessmen of some sort (excluding GB) treat the employees of their other businesses that same way (assuming a good example would be Paul Allen).
Perhaps you recall the remark last year from an owner about inmates running the asylum. That should tell you what you need to know about the relationship.
VIDEO: NAACP President Claims He Was Profiled On Stop, Then Chief Releases Video
copy and paste above
Comments on this Doug Baldwin? NFL players going to kneel during the anthem because of leaders like this?
The foray was initiated by Trump.
Baldwin is a black male he has no credibility. Taking a knee has nothing to do with Trump. I am a VET I don’t like it, am I stupid?
Well, as the column pointed out, Baldwin who has much cred, didn’t take a knee last season. So you decide about your intelligence.
I beg to disagree. Trump is not an idiot. He is a self serving, selfish, self aggrandizing lying POS. He has no positions, no content. He makes up racial issues to pander to those who support him. I hope to see him become the first ex-president to be jailed.