If you thought the last Super Bowl would spell the end of a season of American discord over the National Anthem and picking on the National Football League by President Donald Trump, you were sorely mistaken.
Colin Kaepernick still can’t find work. Trump is still talking about the National Anthem. The NFL is making weird choices about what to do. Team members are still split on whether to visit the White House after winning the championship.
A lot of these storylines converged this week. Here’s what happened:
1. League will allow penalties for kneeling during the anthem, but give players choice
As NFL players start to prepare for the 2018-2019 season with contract disputes and team summer camps, the league decided Wednesday to allow teams to throw the penalty flag for players who kneel, but also to allow players to skip the anthem altogether.
The complicated new rule, which will create a patchwork system of different rules in different stadiums, is still being digested.
From CNN’s latest update: “Instead of a league-wide rule, it will be up to each team to decide whether there would be discipline for a player protesting during the National Anthem. Should a player protest on the sideline, the NFL can fine a team, but not the player.”
This seems like the kind of rule that would create more problems than it solves, but who knows. Trump has called on the league to fire players who kneel.
2. Trump brought up the National Anthem again
“And I will tell you – one thing I know about NASCAR, they do indeed, Brian, stand for the playing of the national anthem, right,” Trump said at the White House Monday at an event honoring NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. The Brian he’s referring to is NASCAR CEO Brian France. “They do indeed. Somebody said, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t say that, that’ll be controversial.’ I said, ‘That’s OK, NASCAR’s not going to mind it at all.’ Right fellas? They don’t mind it at all.”
It wasn’t the first time Trump had praised NASCAR in terms of the National Anthem. He did not (and has not) mentioned the history of seeing the Confederate flag flown at NASCAR events until a 2015 crackdown.
3. The Eagles will visit the White House, but …
“We’re excited to be going,” Eagles Coach Doug Pederson told reporters Tuesday of the team’s decision to visit the White House. “At the same time, it’s an individual decision (for the players).” A number of Eagles, like Malcolm Jenkins, are expected to skip.
4. Kaepernick’s collusion grievance against the NFL drags on
The twists and turns of the ongoing “collusion” case are interesting to follow and draw a lot of opinions. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, for instance, recently said he thought Kapernick was clearly good enough to be in the league. “If we’re just talking football … there aren’t 63 better quarterbacks in the world,” he told TMZ sports.
Trump might have his eyes more on a different collusion investigation, but stay tuned for the outcome of Kapernick’s to potentially draw some presidential tweets as well.