NFL execs are still in the firing line.
A New York congressman with a reputation as a straight shooter took a bead on New York Jets chairman and acting owner Christopher Johnson on Saturday with a Twitter post that nailed Johnson’s attempt to play both sides in the ongoing dispute over players protesting during the national anthem.
And he hit the target dead center.
Republican Rep. Peter King was responding to Johnson’s comments after the league announced its new policy Wednesday requiring players who are on the field to stand respectfully for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Under the policy, teams would be fined if their players or other employees engage in protests during the song, according to ESPN.
On Wednesday, Johnson told Newsday he would not pass any team fines on to individual players.
“I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest,” he told the newspaper. “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.”
In a Twitter post, King called the remarks “disgraceful.”
“Disgraceful that @nyjets owner will pay fines for players who kneel for National Anthem,” King wrote. “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!”
King, who is no stranger to controversy, has a habit of telling liberals exactly what they don’t want to hear. That much was clear from the Twitter responses, which were overwhelmingly from the liberal side (and written with as much intelligence as you’d expect from that quarter.)
And on this one, he was exactly right.
The league’s ratings dropped throughout the 2016 and 2017 seasons, costing networks that carry the games billions of dollars.
The American public was disgusted by the sight of mega-millionaires protesting the country that made them wealthy by kneeling on the field before games most Americans can’t afford to attend themselves.
Now, the owners are trying rectify the situation by ordering players on the field to stand respectfully for the anthem, and allowing those who can’t bring themselves to do even that to stay in the locker room for the duration of a song beloved by hundreds of millions of their compatriots.
Johnson told Newsday he only supported the league’s new policy because it fined the teams, not individual players for protests, which gave him the chance to pay for any misbehavior.
Maybe that’s true, but since no Jets took a knee during the controversy last season, according to Newsday, it’s a good chance that Johnson is getting a chance to make himself look like a liberal hero without facing the consequence of paying any real actual money for his national profile in courage.
Instead he gets to show off as a supporter of his players and play a hero to American liberals — and all he has to do is make a pretense of supporting what King rightfully called “a movement premised on lies vs. police.”
Does racism exist in the United States? Of course it does, in many ways — including the kind of racism that paints anyone with white skin as an “oppressor.”
But the “oppression” the NFL players are pretending to protest grew directly out of the whole “hands up, don’t shoot” movement — and even a Washington Post editorial board member admitted “hands up, don’t shoot” was a lie.
King was right. The anthem protests were bad. And the weaselly reactions of owners like Johnson are “disgraceful.”
They’re the kind of arrogantly empty actions that are keeping NFL execs in the firing line. Until they man up and get some courage, it’s where they belong.
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