At least one NFL star is thumbing his nose at the league’s new rules regarding protests during the national anthem. “I’m going to take a fine this year, why not?” Tennessee Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey told CNN today.
“I’m going to protest during the flag — that’s what I’m going to say now,” Casey told the cable news outlet during a promotional event in London. The NFL in May adopted a rule that says all players and league personnel on the sidelines must stand for the national anthem or face a fine on their teams.
Casey, who has gone to the NFL’s Pro Bowl three consecutive years, is the most prominent player to state publicly that he will ignore the new guidelines, which gives players the option to remain in the locker room if they don’t want to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The new rules, of course, come in response to backlash over players kneeling during the anthem — a protest over police shootings started by now-unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 preseason. He said at the time that he was ready for potential backlash for his support of African-Americans and other minorities, who he said were being oppressed by the powers that be in America.
Among those decrying the protests are President Donald Trump, who has made a meal of the issue. POTUS publicly called out the league and its players for their protests last season, saying he was “ashamed” that players took a knee during the anthem and suggesting during one rally that owners expel those who do so. He told a crowd that if the league’s owners had a player who protested, they should “get that son of a bitch off the field right now!”
The new anthem rules were announced a few months after the ratings-conscious Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox network made a big-money deal to acquire rights to Thursday Night Football. It will be interesting to see if Casey and/or others stage a pregame protest when the Titans host the Jacksonville Jaguars on TNF in December. The Titans also will play twice on ESPN’s Monday Night Football during the upcoming season.