Why the NFL just can't seem to get politics right – CNN

In October 2017, when the complex debate about free speech, protest, patriotism and workplace conduct in the NFL was reaching its white-hot apex, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tried to re-assert the league’s political agnosticism. “What we are trying to stay out of his politics, he said at the NFL fall meetings that month. His words would prove to be impotent. Since then, the league, its players, its viewership and its level of commitment to patriotic demonstrations have been favorite talking points of President Donald Trump — a fairly pure indicator of a political issue. In the same 2017 meeting, Goodell and other owners also said they wouldn’t change the league’s anthem policy, which encouraged but didn’t require players to stand. In May of this year, the league issued a new policy, much to the consternation of some players and staff. Then, it got even more thorny. In early July, Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill used the team’s official social media accounts and website to endorse Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s pick for Supreme Court Justice. When it comes to politics, the NFL can’t seem to get it right. Why? 1. They try to please everyone On September 24, 2017, owners and players linked arms, some standing and some kneeling, during the anthem preceding the Sunday matchups. It was the most visible climax of the #TakeAKnee movement, galvanized by comments Trump had made at a rally the week before disparaging players for exercising their right to protest.

It looked like the NFL was going to pull off something impressive — addressing the political concerns of players who chose to take a knee while creating a moment of finality that would pivot the conversation away from politics. Two months after the demonstration, the

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