Which side are the NFL owners on you ask? The side of money, of course.
After Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest during the national anthem last season, the NFL and its owners distanced themselves as far away from him as possible, leaving Kaepernick unemployed to this day. But following President Donald Trump’s attack on players who take a similar stance as Kaepernick, the owners spoke out in defense of the players’ right to freedom of speech.
Only one thing can make wealthy billionaires change their minds so quickly, and that’s money.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired!” -Donald Trump
With those words said at a campaign rally in Huntsville, AL last Friday, Trump put all 32 owners in a precarious position with their workforce and fanbase. Even if they wanted to, the owners couldn’t fire every player protesting during the national anthem. For one, some of those players are key contributors to what’s supposedly the ultimate goal – winning. Secondly, that would surely turn off the fans who reluctantly stuck around after Kaepernick’s exile.
If the same owners appearing to be blackballing Kaepernick said/did nothing after the president’s comments, they would have looked as if they were in agreement with Trump, the same man whose campaign many of them donated to. This would have led to splintered relationships within organizations. And even the fans who didn’t care about the protests would lose interest soon after.
The above tweet and similar rhetoric further exacerbated the NFL’s need to show a united front, as Trump called on his legion of supporters to boycott a league that is already being boycotted by Kaepernick supporters. The NFL doesn’t stand a chance in a war with the President over the type of people who support him. These are the same people who see the protests during the national anthem as disrespect to our country and military even though Kaepernick verbally expressed exactly what his intent was.
The NFL had no choice but to target the other segment of fans. It couldn’t be divided within its own ranks if it expected to keep the type of people that didn’t see eye-to-eye with the President. Thus, the league and its owners switched sides, some owners even joining their players in linked arms Sunday and Monday on the sidelines.
The only thing left for the NFL owners to do to complete their about-face is re-employ Kaepernick. The odds of that happening are slim to none however, because everything the owners did is a front. Kaepernick is a free agent because the owners didn’t care enough about the issue he was raising awareness for to put up with what they perceived as bad press or a “distraction.” And in linking arms, the owners (and players) effectively hijacked the narrative of what the protest was originally about – police brutality.
So which side are the owners on? They’re on their own side, and their side will always be about the bottomline, and never forget that.