Despite the NFL’s altered policy against any national anthem kneeling and the threat of fines for disrespecting the flag, at least one player says he will continue protesting this coming season.
Tennessee Titans star defensive tackle Jurrell Casey told CNN this week he’s going to pay the fines and continue protesting the national anthem throughout the 2018 NFL season.
“I’m going to take a fine this year. Why not?” he said. “I’m going to protest during the flag. That’s what I’m going to say now.”
It’s unclear so far what that fine will be — but his potential actions would certainly be a violation of the NFL’s new policy, which states that players on the field must stand for the national anthem. If players do not want to stand for the flag, they have the option to stay behind in the locker room.
Last year Casey raised a fist during the national anthem.
Casey’s announcement might lead to more players who protest in one way or another; he’s one of the league’s better players. The 28-year-old has played in three straight Pro Bowls and was a Pro Bowl alternate back in 2013. This will also be his eighth season in the NFL.
Assuming Casey stays healthy for the entire season, that means he will protest the national anthem at least 20 times (four preseason games, plus 16 regular season games). If his team makes it to the playoffs or if he makes it to the Pro Bowl again, that number would be higher, of course.
Although the amount it would cost Casey for protesting has yet to be disclosed, the NFL rarely goes cheap in this department. For example, in 2016, Casey’s teammate, wide receiver Tajae Sharpe, earned a $12,154 fine for celebrating his first career touchdown.
If disrespecting the American flag amounted to a $10,000 fine, Casey could be paying the league about $200,000 this year in fines.
If this NFL veteran really cares about helping the African-American community, wouldn’t that money go to better use by giving back — via a private charity or the like? In what way does giving the NFL, a league composed of billionaire owners, more money help his cause? In short, it does not at all.
Players haven’t been providing tangible solutions to what they see as problems.
Players also haven’t made clear explicitly what type of positive change they envision from these protests. Sure, they may kneel or protest in some other way, and they have said it’s because of “police brutality,” but what are their solutions? The kneeling action and other protests have been going on since the 2016 NFL season, and yet players haven’t been providing tangible solutions to what they see as problems.
If they’re serious about helping, they should share ideas for making things better. Otherwise, all they are doing is showing disrespect to the military, the police, and patriotic Americans.
With the league’s TV ratings dropping by more than 17 percent over the past two seasons, Casey should ask himself: Are his planned protests really worth it?
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, and other outlets.