TO: The National Football League
FROM: A fan
I can see you’re having a tough time with this “taking a knee” business at NFL games. Clearly you can’t endorse such political demonstrations on the sidelines. That would alienate a lot of fans and would violate Roger Goodell’s rule against taking a principled stance on anything.
On the other hand, it wouldn’t look good if you started disciplining players for kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. Although you’re not big supporters of free speech, you sure don’t want to give that impression.
As a longtime NFL watcher, I’m concerned that if you don’t deal with this issue soon, you’re going to lose a significant portion of your fan base. That’s why I’m offering these suggestions in the hope that we can solve this problem and get back to watching grown men inflict brain damage on one another:
1. First things first: in order to be consistent, you have to get rid of taking a knee during the game. No more letting the quarterback run out the clock by taking the snap and going down on one knee. As President Trump might say, there should be ample opportunities for skull-crushing hits even in the final minute of an already-decided game. After all, it’s American football not that wimpy “football” everyone else plays.
2. Announce the formation of a special committee to look into the matter. This doesn’t mean you have to come up with recommendations or actually do anything. As you well know from your experience dealing with player concussions, researching a problem buys time. Whenever the “take a knee” issue comes up, you can simply say that a committee is being formed to look into it. That could take years at which time you indicate that it would be inappropriate to comment while the committee is investigating which, of course, could take even more years.
3. Invite everyone to take a knee. As Tim Tebow has demonstrated, taking a knee in prayer before the game appears to be uncontroversial. Before the national anthem is played, ask everyone to remove their hats and honor their favorite item in the First Amendment (be it religion, speech, press, assembly or even redress of grievances) by getting down on one knee and singing along….or not. For southern venues, teams could even add a salute to the Second Amendment as a further option.
4. Get rid of the national anthem altogether. Although playing The Star Spangled Banner might be appropriate at military ceremonies or on national holidays, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to do so before a sporting event. Toss a coin, blow the whistle and start the game. If you absolutely have to have a tune, how about taking a cue from baseball where they play Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the seventh-inning stretch? You could always play Hank Williams, Jr.’s All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night (“Are you ready for some football?”) as the teams take the field.
Whatever option you choose, it’s time to take action now and preserve what is essentially our national religion. Failure to do so may result in football fans spending their Sundays in church instead and that, my friends, could spell the end of the NFL.