A bombshell inside story on the NFL owners and players meeting last October about national anthem protests has emerged from the New York Times Wednesday afternoon. And it’s not being viewed as a coincidence, that the story’s release is coming on the eve of the NFL’s most important off season weekend with the NFL Draft.
The Times also obtained an audio recording of the three-hour meeting, and it’s a fascinating window into the chaos that began in August of 2016 with Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem. Then, erupted like a volcano, when President Donald Trump spoke out on the Friday Night of the third weekend of the NFL season last September.
President Trump went so far as to call on fans to boycott, and that owners should “fire” players, who were kneeling. That weekend there were numerous player protests orchestrated across NFL games in response to Trump’s incendiary comments. That included the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were playing that Sunday in London and many Jags players knelt for the national anthem of the United States and then stood for the national anthem of England.
From the audio recording that the New York Times obtained, Jaguars owner Shad Khan and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross are heard making comments and responding in Q&A with a group of players. Those players through the NFLPA had been invited to attend the unprecedented mid-season summit in New York to address social issues.
The Times quotes Ross as having raised the idea of “a march on Washington D.C.” by NFL players and owners. It apparently didn’t get much support or response in the room.
The Times also quotes Jaguars owner Shad Khan from the recording, giving his thoughts to everyone in the room that he believed “the damage is already done from Trump.” And, that the owners who were voicing concerns that more Trump comments would only inflame the situation should not as concerned with that, as finding solutions.
We previously wrote that around that the same time, the Jaguars were receiving massive private pressure from military organizations and potential fan boycotts and backlash. So much so, team president Tom Lamping and Vice President of Football Tom Coughlin attended a meeting in the Jaguars facility with representatives of the military organizations to listen and to try to calm what was going on behind the scenes in North Florida.
We have also written that Ross was originally in agreement with his players protesting, but earlier this off-season actually spoke out on the record in New York that he wanted the anthem protest to end now.
Ross received backlash on the internet and elsewhere, and quickly backpedaled his comments the following day. He now says, he would rather that the players not kneel, but if they choose to do so, it’s there right.
Clearly from this article and what has gone on since during last season in this off season, there is still a great fear from the owners of what the anthem protests are doing to the business at the NFL. It is also not in dispute that the NFL has lost approximately 10% of its viewership over the course of the past two seasons.
There is no other reasonable explanation, as to why that suddenly happened, except backlash from fans angry at the protests-siding with Trump’s comments and against those who are kneeling, by turning games off.
And the article from the Times basically lays out numerous owners talking about such backlash and their concern for their businesses during last October’s meeting. And, what they believed what would happen, if they do not act accordingly.
Once more, it’s more than curious timing that this would be released on the day before the 2018 NFL draft is to begin in Arlington, Texas. It’s also curious that the article has quotes from the meeting from prominent owners like Robert Kraft of the Patriots and John Mara of the Giants, but nothing from usually verbose Jerry Jones of the Cowboys.
There is also no mention of the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, having commented during the meeting, either.
And conspiracy theories are abounding everywhere as to who would have leaked the audio recording to the paper in the first place. This is especially, when Rodger Goodell can be heard on the recording, according to the Times, as saying to everyone in the room that the meeting should be “kept confidential.”
Truly, there’s never an off-season or a dull day in covering the National Football League.
Wednesday is proof of that
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