Giants owner issues anthem message to his players - 'It's the right thing to do'


After two years of controversy and declining ratings, the NFL announced a new policy on national anthem protests Wednesday.

All players on the field will be required to “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem,” but those who don’t want to do so can stay in the locker room until the anthem is over.

Teams whose players violate the policy will face fines from the league office, and the players could face further punishment from their team or Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Unsurprisingly, the response to the new anthem policy was widely varied, with some saying it’s a long-overdue action to stop disrespectful and divisive protests, others decrying it as an infringement on free speech, and still others saying it won’t change anything.

Even the leaders of the two New York NFL teams had opposite reactions to the policy.

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Jets chairman Christopher Johnson said Wednesday his players are free to kneel or sit during the anthem without worrying about any repercussions.

“If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players,” Johnson said Wednesday. “I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players.”

That’s in stark contrast to the stance of Giants co-owner John Mara, who helped lead the way for the new policy as chairman of the NFL Management Council Executive Committee.

“I think certainly we all hope that our players stand for the anthem this year,” Mara said Wednesday in an interview on SiriusXM radio. “I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Speaking shortly after the resolution was passed, Mara said the league needed to resolve the “divisive issue” of anthem protests.

“We’ve been supportive of those in the past who have decided to protest,” he said, “but I think we’ve gotten to a point now where it’s become such a divisive issue that I think it’s important that we come out of here with a policy that everybody can respect and adhere to.”

Mara is likely to be disappointed on that front. One of his own players has already lashed out in the wake of the new policy.

Defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison said it’s “crazy” to blame the NFL’s ratings drop on the anthem protests, arguing unconvincingly that people who support the protests are responsible for the decline.

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Harrison didn’t say whether he will follow the league’s anthem policy in the 2018 season.

His union, the NFL Players Association, called out Mara and Goodell in its statement Wednesday about the new policy, saying it “contradicts” the statements they had made about “the principles, values and patriotism of our League.”

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Todd Windsor is a senior story editor at The Western Journal. He has worked as an editor or reporter in news and sports for more than 30 years.
Todd Windsor is a senior story editor at The Western Journal. He was born in Baltimore and grew up in Maryland. He graduated from the University of Miami (he dreams of wearing the turnover chain) and has worked as an editor and reporter in news and sports for more than 30 years. Todd started at The Miami News (defunct) and went on to work at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times, The Baltimore Sun and Space News before joining Liftable Media in 2016. He and his beautiful wife have two amazing daughters and a very old Beagle.
Bachelor of Science from the University of Miami
Phoenix, Arizona
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