The first weekend of the National Football League’s pre-season is in the books ,and already the ongoing controversy over player protests during the national anthem has become a focus.
Despite the league’s efforts to have a cooling-off period while it seeks a solution to the ongoing demonstrations with the NFL Players Association, it appears that things are already starting to escalate.
Dolphins players Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson kneeled and Robert Quinn raised his fist during the national anthem. In response, two police unions urged their members to not buy tickets to the games.
The Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association issued a Facebook statement on tickets.
“The Palm Beach County PBA recently offered our members discounts to a Miami Dolphins game because the franchise said they were going to honor all first responders. We entered into this partnership with the understanding that the Dolphins organization would require their players to stand for the National Anthem. This did not happen at last night preseason game against Tampa Bay. As a result, the Palm Beach County PBA will no longer participate in this ticket program, and we are asking all our members, as well members of the Dade Country Police Benevolent Association and the Broward County Police Benevolent Association, not to participate either. If you have already purchased tickets to this game, we encourage you to call the Dolphins ticket office to request a refund because this organization obviously does not honor First Responders and the dangers they put themselves in every day.”
The Broward County Police Benevolent Association released a similar Facebook statement as well. The actions by the police unions are significant, since most NFL games use off-duty police as security. Some police forces last season considered not providing such game services.
Players from the Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks also protested at their game on Thursday, provoking President Donald Trump into repeating his condemnations of their actions.
The NFL tried to come up with a solution to the ongoing protests in May. At that point, the league asked players to stand respectfully for the anthem, or stay in the locker room if they felt standing at attention wasn’t the right path. Players chafed and the NFL Players Assn. filed a grievance on the issue, saying player civil rights were being violated.
Currently, teams will be fined by the league for anthem protests, and team can take individual action. However, a pre-season cooling off period was called, during which no player or team would be penalized.
After Thursday’s protests, the NFL said the league’s anthem policy is still on hold while it talks with the players association.