The NFL may have intended for its Wednesday announcement of ato appease both sides of a long-politically charged debate or at least slip quietly into the midweek news cycle, but that didn't happen in the slightest on social media.
While most team owners, save for the San Francisco 49ers' Jed York and the several who accompanied NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to Wednesday's press conference revealing the policy, have kept quiet about the rule changes, many fans, reporters and former players have not.
Here's a roundup of all the top tweets on the NFL's new policy:
For former NFL quarterback Sage Rosenfels, who echoed many of the same thoughts shared by the dozens of players who peacefully protested in 2017, the problems with the new rules are aplenty.
The answer to this kneeling issue is to leave teams in the locker room. We were always in the locker room during the anthem before 2009 with the exception of a MNF game the week after 9/11 in Green Bay.— Sage Rosenfels (@SageRosenfels18) May 23, 2018
Nobody had an issue that they weren’t out on the field for it before 2009.
I hope the NFL decides to completely stop all concession stand sales during the anthem as well. We wouldn’t want people buying a $10 beer and an $8 hot dog during our sacred anthem.— Sage Rosenfels (@SageRosenfels18) May 23, 2018
All TV camera crews must stop filming and direct attention at the flag too.
Just seems fair.
I love America. I appreciate the sacrifices men and women have made, and continue to make, for me and my family’s safety. Our military is what protects our democracy, our ideals, and our constitution.— Sage Rosenfels (@SageRosenfels18) May 23, 2018
Peaceful protests are extremely important for us to remain a free country.
Is there some sort of rule book on all the exact details of what we as Americans are supposed to do during the anthem? I’d like to know so I can follow all of these rules and not be disrespectful to anybody.— Sage Rosenfels (@SageRosenfels18) May 23, 2018
I’m guessing I have to toss my Stars and Stripes swim trunks too.
Desperately wish you had a 30-minutes-or-so, daily NFL podcast in your podcast app every morning by 6 a.m.? Put some Pick Six Podcast in your life and join Will Brinson as he breaks down the latest news and notes from around the league, as well as the win totals on a team-by-team schedule. It's a daily dose of football to get you right for that commute or gym trip. Subscribe: via iTunes | via Stitcher | via TuneIn | via Google Play
Author Dan Wetzel -- and others -- agreed on the front of many fans outright ignoring the anthem at stadiums.
Considering the number of fans I see checking their phone, drinking beers or heading off to the bathroom during the anthem, I continue to find this entire topic strange.— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) May 23, 2018
If players must stand for the anthem, fans in the stadium must be held to the same standard. No running for food or beer. No chatting with your BFF.— mike sb (@Mike__SB) May 23, 2018
I’m sure most, having voiced their opinions about the players so loud and patriotically, would have no problem abiding.
NFL should also fine any member of the crowd who doesn't stand for the Flag and Anthem. The NFL should fine any person who doesn't come to an NFL game to stand for the Flag and Anthem. If you own a football you must come to the Stand. Flag. Anthem. Freedom is Penalty. Papa Johns.— Brock Wilbur (@brockwilbur) May 23, 2018
Others agreed with Rosenfels' point about the NFL, in 2009, making it a requirement for players to be on the field for the anthem in the first place, suggesting that people who say, "Protest on your own time," probably don't go to work where patriotism is enforced.
Name a single corporate employer in America that makes you stand for the national anthem when you come to work every day?— Daniel Jenkins (@dtjenkins1222) May 23, 2018
NBC News' Chuck Todd opined that the NFL's policy actually makes some sense from a business standpoint, perhaps because the owners want nothing more than to, as Arizona Cardinals president Steve Keim put it on Wednesday, "get back to football." But he also suggested it comes off as another public misstep for a league trying to retain its fans (and money) and side with its players.
While new NFL anthem policy makes sense from business & Trump PR perspective and is certainly within league’s rights, there’s just something that feels unAmerican about forcing folks to abide what is, well, the league’s own politics. Feels like a band aid that won’t stick.— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) May 23, 2018
CBS Sports' Danny Kanell took an alternative approach and suggested a similar policy has worked well for the NBA.
Just a reminder that the NBA has a policy in place that REQUIRES players to stand for the anthem and they have taken zero criticism for it— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) May 23, 2018
As others have pointed out, though, in many eyes, the NFL hasn't shown itself to be nearly as progressive in supporting player causes as the NBA, and basketball's anthem policy was reportedly also the product of a collective bargaining agreement -- not a decision made without the consent of the players association.
The nba also allows for other forms of protest, like wearing t-shirts, writing on shoes. The NFL only allows players to do a shoe cause once a season. And based on Art Rooney’s comments they want everything to be limited not just standing.— Ryan Hurst (@Ryan_JHurst) May 23, 2018
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, for one, is a fan of the policy. And that's no surprise considering his counterpart, President Donald Trump, has long been the nation's leading voice against peaceful pregame protests, should cut "son of a (explicit)" players who use the anthem as a platform for promoting equality.himself and first suggesting in September 2017 that NFL owners
Intentional or not, PBS White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor -- and others -- said the policy gives Trump and Pence exactly what they've been wanting sinceover players' protests, all while upstaging some of the words of the national anthem.
To be clear, the NFL is publicly siding with President Trump by requiring players to now stand during the national anthem and stop protesting police brutality. The president has said players should stand because they are not being patriotic. Pres Trump has now gotten his way. https://t.co/eK2hoteG8e— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) May 23, 2018
Our anthem says we're "the land of the free and the home of the brave." Freedom & bravery took a big hit today. All who love our country & our freedoms should reject the #NFL owners' shameful targeting of protesting players--and their spineless caving to #Trump's pressure.— EJ Dionne (@EJDionne) May 23, 2018
The Philadelphia Daily News' Les Bowen, Quartz reporter Tim Fernholz and former NFL player Domonique Foxworth thought the NFL may have been better off avoiding any kind of announcement or rule change whatsoever since its own social activism deal -- and a decreasing number of protesters -- seemed to be bringing the issue to its own resolution.
amazing that the NFL has managed to extend and amplify this anthem controversy when silence would have allowed it to drift away, as it did at the end of last season— Tim Fernholz (@TimFernholz) May 23, 2018
Others, like SportsNet New York's Taylor Rooks, Sports Illustrated's Robert Klemko and Carolina Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith, said the new policy has merely reignited a false perception about the protests, which began in 2016 with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee to call attention to police brutality and racial injustice, painting players as "unpatriotic" rather than hungry for social progress.
The new anthem policy states that players "shall stand and show respect for the flag and anthem." Issue with this: it implies that those that kneeled weren't respecting the flag. Furthering the false idea that the protests were about the flag. The protests are about injustice.— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) May 23, 2018
The notion that players are disrespecting the flag by demonstrating their belief that this country is not living up to the cherished ideals the flag represents is purely an invention of those who are willfully trampling those ideals on a daily basis. https://t.co/QsvcB8BLIo— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) May 23, 2018
Poorly executed or not, the National Review's Dan McLaughlin still thinks the NFL was within its rights to enact such a policy.
Political protests by players on their own platforms are none of the NFL's business. But squelching anthem protests *on the field during a league-sanctioned activity* is the NFL's business for the same reason baseball punished Yuli Gurriel for in-game, on-camera gestures.— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) May 23, 2018
Others, going beyond the fact that the NFL mandated player appearances during the anthem in 2009, simply believe the league has acted out of fear of angering too many fans.
Then it's not really about "respecting" the National Anthem. It's about removing any possible platform for social commentary by players, no matter how innocuous, that could trigger some fans, even if the message takes the form of a physical act that universally symbolizes unity. https://t.co/EcbMySdop2— Christopher Gasper (@cgasper) May 23, 2018