I just finished viewing a clip of Colin Cowherd commenting on the NFL Personal Conduct Policy and the power the NFLPA ceded to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell when they negotiated the current CBA, Collective Bargaining Agreement. In his recital, Cowherd points out a statement in the NFL that EVERYONE associated with the NFL must refrain from conduct that is detrimental to the integrity of the league. The policy specifically says, “Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL personnel.”
So, here is my question. How does Commissioner Goodell not see that the National Anthem protests being conducted by his players are UNDERMINING and PUTTING AT RISK the integrity of the NFL and NFL clubs? Why is Commissioner Goodell turning his back to the number one detrimental conduct of his players to the integrity of his league? This is not an opinion. This is a fact. This is not subjective, as Colin Cowherd argued regarding other applications of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.
The people in power, and I am talking NFL and NFLPA executives and network television executives, have chosen to spin the reasons for ratings decline in 2016. There was evidence that there were too many commercials. I won’t disagree with that and reducing the number of commercial interruptions is a positive move but that won’t bring back viewers. The sportsmanship rules put into place turned the league into the No Fun League. Again, I won’t argue with that. The penalties for celebrating a touchdown were out of touch with the combative spirit of the game and it was good to see preseason players once again choreographing touchdown celebrations. What will be this year’s spin if ratings continue decline? The investigation into President Trump’s Russian connections is distracting viewers. Hurricane Harvey awoke people to other priorities in life. College football is drawing fans away.
The product the NFL puts out on the field every Fall weekend is phenomenal. The players are world-class athletes and mysteriously superhuman. The talk on Monday mornings over a cup of coffee should be “did you see the throw Carson Palmer made this weekend”, not that half of the Browns insulted the American flag.
The next NFL player who is suspended due to the violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy should put the NFL in his cross-hairs and argue that the policy is arbitrarily enforced and cite the damage to the league’s integrity from the national anthem protests. This will force the NFL to redefine conduct that undermines the integrity of the league and clubs. The NFL has shown it will not discipline players for protesting the American flag; Colin Kaepernick is purely a business decision based on the fact he will not lead a team to a championship and the community discourse he will create is not worth winning a couple additional games.
Colin’s final point was that the policy also states that conduct by anyone that is irresponsible damages the reputation of the league and that too is completely subjective. And, again, how Colin chose to apply it that is true. My point, how can the league not say that the action of players that alienates half of their fan base is not irresponsible? In any other business, if an employee’s behavior offends half of the customers that employee would be immediately terminated. Period. End of story. You’re fired, as President Trump would say. Whether or not you believe the National Anthem protests undermine the integrity of or damages the reputation of the league is not up for debate. The fact is that half of the American population disagrees with your point of view and that alone is evidence that the integrity of the sport has been damaged.