The NFL continues to shed sponsors like my cat sheds his sheds fur after a long, cold winter. This time, a massive car dealership in New Jersey told the NFL to pound sand.
Flemington Car and Truck Country mega car dealearship owner Steve Kalafer is fed up with the NFL’s refusal to enforce its own rules about standing for the national anthem on NFL players.
“The National Football League and its owners have shown their fans and marketing partners that they do not have a comprehensive policy to ensure that players stand and show respect for America and our flag during the playing of the national anthem. We have cancelled all of our NFL advertising on the Optimum and Infinity (cable) networks.
As the NFL parses the important nationwide issues of ‘social justice’ and ‘freedom of speech,’ it is clear that a firm direction by them is not forthcoming.”
That’s not quite accurate. The NFL does have a comprehensive policy to ensure players stand for the national anthem. It’s found in the league’s Game Operations Manual. They just won’t enforce it.
“The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.
Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.”
The NFL designed its policy – players will stand for the national anthem – for a reason; to ensure players showed proper respect for the nation affording them such incredible opportunity and financial success.
There is a time and place for political protest. If players want to use their fame and fortune to promote social causes, fight injustice, or tackle any of the many social ills facing our world, they’re free to do that – just not on the football field at game time.
Kalafer pulled the ads for one simple reason – his customers and employees expressed their disgust with players kneeling for the anthem. Those customers and employees feel NFL players disrespect the flag and the nation when they take a knee for the National Anthem or refuse to come out of the locker room.
When 99% of his contacts and business associates believe their conduct is disrespectful, Kalafer did the one thing, the only thing, that will get the NFL’s attention. He voted with his dollars. He shut his wallet and put it in his pocket for the remainder of the season.
So long as the NFL’s management, team ownership and coaches refused to address this issue by enforcing the NFL’s regulations, teams will continue to shed advertisers.
We all face terms and conditions of employment we may not like or agree with. NFL players are no different, despite their high profile and massive salaries. When we mere mortals violate the terms and conditions of our employment, we can and often do get fired. In fact, if our employer wants to maintain respect and credibility with the rest of its employees, the employer is obligated to fire a disrespectful employee who does not abide by the terms and conditions of their employment.
The problem the NFL faces is rather unique, I won’t argue that. How does the NFL discipline players when doing so could cost teams the game? How does the NFL enforce a regulation when half the country will call you racist?
The answer should be obvious.
Explain the policy, the reasons for the policy, and then enforce that policy without exception. Yes, even if its a team’s star quarterback who violates that policy.
Will players be outraged? Some will, no doubt. But fans and advertisers, the people who pay those exorbitant NFL salaries, will cheer the NFL for standing up for what it believes.
Nobody likes a coward, and that’s exactly what we have right now in the NFL in the offices of Commissioner and most owners across the league. Cowards.
So the NFL has a choice. Enforce the policy or abolish it. They can’t keep the policy while simultaneously ignoring it without coming off as hypocritical and spineless.
Nobody watches football to see hypocrites and spineless cowards – we watch football to see players perform athletic miracles on the field; to be inspired to be inspired by those miracles.
So, NFL players, on Sundays do the job you are paid to do. Abide by the terms of your employment. Thrill us with athletic feats we can only dream of.
Use the other six days of the week to transform our world into a better place, if that is your heart’s desire.