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The Unintended Consequences of the NFL National Anthem Controversy

Katz: People Take Notice When You Overplay Your Hand

(photo credit: Boston Globe/Getty Images)

The ongoing controversy and political debate over NFL players kneeling in protest during the National Anthem show little sign of being quelled anytime soon, and last week's condemnation by President Trump in conjunction with his statements suggesting players should be fired for refusing to stand has only served to amplify dissension. 

While the media has skewered President Trump for his comments, recent polling shows the majority of Americans are in favor of requiring players to stand. According to the Reuters/Ipsos poll, 58% of Americans believe that players should be required by the NFL to stand for the anthem, to 33% opposing. That same poll shows that 43% of Americans oppose how the NFL is handling the issue.

The polls further show that Americans don’t like players kneeling for the anthem. According to the Reuters/Ipsos poll, 69% of Americans say they stand in silence while the national anthem is played.

Despite the tremendous pushback and condemnation from football fans who favor the league upholding a higher patriotic standard, several NFL players have responded by becoming event more defiant. 

The Titans and Seahawks remained in the locker room during the national anthem before their game last Sunday at Nissan Stadium, and a couple of the Titans' star players have a message outraged fans threatening to turn their back on the team: Don't come to the game.

“First off, I’m going to say this: We’re not disrespecting the military, the men and women that serve in the Army. That’s not what it’s all about,” Titans tight end Delanie Walker said. “If you look at most of the guys in here – I’ve been in the USO. I support the troops. This is not about that. It’s about equal rights, and that’s all everyone is trying to show, is that we all care about each other.

“And the fans that don’t want to come to the game? I mean, OK. Bye. I mean, if you feel that’s something, we’re disrespecting you, don’t come to the game. You don’t have to. No one’s telling you to come to the game. It’s your freedom of choice to do that.”

WIBC host Tony Katz covered Delanie Walker's remarks and discussed how the players who choose to protest and the leadership within the league are overplaying their hand.

Katz:

That is tone deaf. That is tone deaf and that is the feeling that people got by watching all these guys take a knee and watching all the other athletes out there defending the action. All the commentaries on social media: 'Oh, we're wrong for thinking you should respect the anthem? Oh, okay. We're not watching.'

Unintended consequence: restaurants across the country are turning off their TVs. People are burning their jerseys. We've seen people burn their season tickets.

...In Pittsburgh, there is a store that sells gear. They're getting boycotted. They're just a business. So unintended consequences sometimes go too far.

...Let's go to New Orleans. State House Representative Kenny Harvard called for Louisiana's government to pull state funding, tax breaks and other support for the New Orleans Saints. You don't think this is an issue from which people can get elected? Of course this is an issue from which you can get elected.

...Unintended consequences occur when you overplay your hand, and the consequences can go far beyond a few fans burning their tickets and turning off their televisions.

Click below to hear Tony's full commentary:

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