NFL players, coaches grapple with new anthem policy
RENTON, Washington (AP):
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wanted to be talking about football matters Seattle's recommitment to the run game, the addition of two new coordinators, almost anything to do with what happens between the lines.
Instead, the league's oldest coach has spent the past few days processing and discussing the league's new mandate that players on the field stand for the national anthem. Carroll, his players and those around the NFL are now trying to figure out how to tackle the polarising topic in the locker room.
"We're going to have to deal with that," Carroll said. "I was kind of liking the way it was going, and so now it's kind of taken out of the control from the coach and the players and the locker room to a certain extent, so we're going to have to deal with that. In time, we'll figure it out."
Players from Seattle, Buffalo, Denver and New Orleans were among those grappling with how to move forward following the league's announcement Wednesday of a new national anthem policy, which will fine teams if players on the field are not standing for the anthem. Players wishing to continue demonstrations like the kneeling movement sparked by Colin Kaepernick to protest social injustice will be allowed to remain in the locker room during the anthem.
Seattle's Doug Baldwin had the most striking comments, directed at both the league and President Donald Trump after his remarks to Fox & Friends on Thursday saying "maybe you shouldn't be in the country" if you don't stand for the anthem.
"He's an idiot. Plain and simple," Baldwin said. "I respect the man because he's a human being first and foremost, but he's just being divisive, which is not surprising. It is what it is. But for him to say anybody who doesn't follow his viewpoints or his constituents' viewpoints should be kicked out of the country is not very empathetic. It's not very American - like, actually, to me. It's not very patriotic. It's not what this country was founded upon. It's kind of ironic to me the president of the United States is contradicting what our country is really built on."
Even normally reserved Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson agreed with the sentiment that the owners' decision was a message to players to essentially be quiet.
"Pretty much. I think that's part of it. It seems that way," Wilson said. "But I think a policy, right or wrong, is not going to fix our problems."
The new policy allows teams to adopt their own workplace rules, which many players interpreted as a backhanded way of subjecting them to fines, suspensions or loss of jobs should they carry on with the protests.
Players are also frustrated the league did not consult with the players' association before announcing the policy.