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NY congressman rips Jets CEO - 'Would he pay fines of players giving Nazi salutes?'

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When the NFL announced its new policy on national anthem protests last week, one team immediately declared that its players won’t have to follow the rules.

The policy, revealed Wednesday, requires that all players, coaches and other NFL personnel on the field “show respect for the flag and the anthem.” However, those who “choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the anthem has been performed.”

Any team whose players violate the policy will face a fine from the league office, and the club and Commissioner Roger Goodell can punish the individual violators as well.

Later Wednesday, however, New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson declared his players are free to kneel or sit during the anthem without worrying about any repercussions.

“I do not like imposing any club-specific rules,” Johnson told Newsday. “If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players.

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“Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t.

“There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”

Do you agree with Rep. Peter King?

On Saturday, a New York congressman spoke out against Johnson’s stance and asked just how far the Jets would go in not putting restrictions on players’ speech.

“Disgraceful that Jets owner will pay fines for players who kneel for National Anthem,” Rep. Peter King wrote Saturday on Twitter. “Encouraging a movement premised on lies vs. police. Would he support all player protests? Would he pay fines of players giving Nazi salutes or spew racism? It’s time to say goodbye to Jets!”

While many agreed with the Republican congressman — his tweet had more than 2,000 likes — some concluded that King was likening anthem protests to Nazi salutes.

“By invoking ‘Nazi salutes,’ King is using incendiary language that is sure to enflame the situation just as the NFL was hoping to find a way to prevent it from dominating the headlines,” wrote NBC Sports’ Michael David Smith.

King elaborated on his comments later Saturday, telling Newsday, “To me, the people who are kneeling down, accusing the police of misconduct, that’s not something that fits within reasonable protest. If I owned an NFL team, I’d say, ‘Either stand up or not be on the team.'”

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He said the national anthem protests are based on the claim that police officers are targeting African-Americans with violence, “and the statistics don’t show it.” (A 2016 Harvard study found no racial bias in officer-involved shootings.)

The anthem protests were started by then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 preseason. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said at the time.

Veterans groups and others have called for a league boycott in response to the divisive demonstrations, and NFL ratings have plummeted the past two years.

The league hopes its new policy will put a halt to that. “We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it,” Goodell said Wednesday.

Unfortunately for the commissioner and his league, it looks like the anthem controversy is far from over.

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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.
Birthplace
Baltimore
Education
Bachelor of Science from the University of Miami
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Media, Sports




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