Tag Archives: NFL

Kneeling For What You Believe In: Controversy on Sports TV

By now, we are all familiar with the massive debacle that was the NFL kneeling controversy.

What most people still don’t know, however, is how it started, why it was started, and the effect it had on the NFL and all of its sponsors, fans, and players. Let’s dig in, shall we?

Leading up to the 2016 NFL regular season, former Seahawks player and Green Beret Nate Boyer had a talk with San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick about honoring the national anthem. Boyer was actually the one who suggested taking a knee alongside Kaepernick’s teammates during the anthem. Boyer stated that “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect.”

kneeling

Kaepernick wasted no time and took his first knee during the 49ers’ final game of the 2016 NFL preseason.

What many people didn’t recognize was the purpose behind what he was doing. Kaepernick stated in a postgame press conference that he is “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” For Kaepernick, he was never trying to disrespect the flag, veterans or the national anthem, as many people accused him of doing. He was merely exercising his freedom of speech, something that all veterans and servicemen have fought and died to protect.

Before long, the movement had spread like wildfire across the NFL. Robert Quinn, a defensive end for the Dolphins, raised his fist during the anthem. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcom Jenkins raised his fist while teammate Chris Long “placed his arm around Jenkins’ shoulder”, cornerback De’Vante Bausby also raised his fist in protest. Just to list a few names.

Initially, the NFL couldn’t do anything to players who protested the anthem. The rules stated that while it is encouraged that all players stand and hold their hand over their heart during the anthem, it is not required.

Many fans who detested these demonstrations began protesting the protests by not going to games, refusing to even watch the games on television and, you guessed it, burning their NFL gear and posting the videos on the Internet. (That’ll show ‘em!)

Kaepernick eventually sued the NFL for conspiring against him, accusing NFL owners of collectively making the decision to no longer allow him to play in their league even though he would be overqualified for a backup role at the least.

The NFL finally caved to President Trump’s incessant whining about players protesting. The NFL decided that it will fine any individual who chooses to do anything other than stand and show respect for the anthem and flag. Players are not required to be present on the field during the anthem, however.

New York Jet’s chairman, Christopher Johnson, said anyone on his team who chooses to protest during the anthem will do so without incurring any fines. He stated that “If somebody (on the Jets) takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players.

The NFL then changed the policy to suggest that players stand during the anthem, but wouldn’t fine them if they chose not to. Instead, “teams will be subject to a fine if a player disobeys”. Each club does have the freedom to fine its own player if it so chooses, however.

Today, Colin Kaepernick is a civil rights icon. He has donated over one million dollars of his own money to charities across the nation. And he took part in Nike’s 30th anniversary campaign of its Just Do It slogan which led to another wave of backlash against the former NFL star.

The best way we, as a nation, can move forward with this controversy is by asking ourselves how we could handle this situation differently were it to happen again. When a fellow citizen is willing to sacrifice his profession and reputation in order to point out injustice within our own borders, maybe we shouldn’t respond by sending him death threats and burning things to prove a point. Perhaps we could use it as an opportunity to take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves,

“Can we, as a people and as a nation, do better?”

-Michael Oasheim

Concussion: Brave New Whistleblower or Anticlimactic Copout?

Let’s get you up to speed. Concussion is Sony Pictures’ new feature film coming out this Christmas featuring Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who discovers Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of two NFL players.

Concussion Poster The trailer has already sparked interest into the story that has Will Smith like you’ve never seen him. Based on a true story, this film looks to be a hit as it showcases the controversial topic of the NFL’s safety protocol, and the controversy doesn’t stop there.

The preview reveals Dr. Omalu’s fight against National Football League executives to “tell the truth” when it comes to his recent findings. It even shows instances of Dr. Omalu being threatened and stalked by suspicious figures in attempt to coerce him into covering up his life’s work. This is juicy stuff in an era where many already question the NFL’s safety protocol when it comes to concussion prevention and treatment.

This film is expected to provide a great opportunity for us to take a deep look at how Sunday’s new devotion has put profit above anything else. After watching the captivating trailer, one would believe this film is opening the closet door to reveal what skeletons the NFL has been hiding. Or maybe at one point they were going to do that. And chickened out. You see, this is where things get sticky.

According to an article written by Ken Belson, Sony Pictures has “found itself softening some points it might have made against the multibillion-dollar sports enterprise that controls the nation’s most-watched game.” The article cites dozens of emails that surfaced by hackers between Sony executives, representatives of Will Smith, and the film’s director, Peter Landesman.

Said emails involved discussion of “how to avoid antagonizing the NFL by altering the script and marketing the film more as a whistle-blower story rather than a condemnation of football or the league.” But wait, there’s more; another email stated that certain “unflattering moments for the NFL” were either altered or removed from the film entirely. Could these signs point to Sony’s fear of uncovering their own bogeyman?

Will Smith concussionConcussion’s director, Landesman, quickly came to the defense of Sony in a statement to the Associated Press stating that the movie, “never once compromised the integrity and power of the real story.” Instead, he claims that scenes were only altered in order to tell the story as accurately as possible; as well as to prevent lawsuits against the filmmakers for fabrication. He stated that cuts were only made to make the story, “better, richer, and fairer.”

Ironically enough, it may seem that the NFL has bullied Sony into softening up a film about the NFL bullying doctors. Sensing a trend here? Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves now, as every story has two sides that deserve to be heard.

Jeff Miller NFLThe NFL has released a recent report in order to have their voice added to the mix. Essentially, this report is “a robust resource on the steps the NFL continues to take to protect players through rule changes, advanced sideline technology, expanded medical resources, investing in protective equipment, a commitment to the wellness of retired players, and a focus on the overall youth sports safety.” The report defends the League’s stance with facts about its’ lowered concussion rates, increased player safety regulations, and growing culture of safety within the game.

The NFL Senior Vice President of Health and Safety Policy, Jeff Miller, said he would willingly work with Sony to raise awareness of safety issues. This invitation may not seem so warm after all considering Sony vetoed Landesman’s attempt to reach out to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for a meeting.

Three conclusions can be drawn from this mess.

The Ending: Sony altered and deleted a few scenes, as most movies do during the editing phase. They did so to keep the story compelling throughout and to avoid any lawsuits against the creative team for fabricating any exaggeration and will be delivering an accurate, bold product come December.

Alternate Ending #1: Sony released an exaggerated preview to hype the film before it releases during the peak of the NFL season and Oscar season. Sony is worried about the new Star Wars film and is taking extreme measures to save the anticlimactic film which will be seen by millions as a letdown.

Alternate Ending #2: Sony wanted to create a film that takes action against the NFL and inspires viewers demand fairness but they ultimately cracked under the pressure of the billionaire owners and executives. The NFL successfully salvages their image once again through scare tactics.

Which ending is the most accurate? You will only be able to determine for yourself this Christmas.

-Jason Vizzini