Protests dwindling? Steelers, Broncos, Packers all plan to stand for the anthem this week

There’ll still be outliers who kneel but it’s looking like much of the league will declare victory after last week’s more widespread pre-game demonstrations and get back to standing for the anthem. The team-wide gestures served their purpose, showing solidarity with the kneelers and opposition to Trump’s criticism that the demonstrators are “sons of bitches.” Now it’s back to business.

Sort of. It seems the compromise gesture that teams are settling on (which some used last week) is to stand but to lock arms doing so. Unity, but respect for the flag. I wonder to what extent Goodell’s office and the owners have quietly huddled with the players to try to find an elegant solution that lets them save face while bringing the protests, which are pissing off some fans, to an end.

This Thursday during the national anthem at Lambeau Field, Packers players, coaches and staff will join together with arms intertwined—connected like the threads on your favorite jersey. When we take this action, what you will see will be so much more than just a bunch of football players locking arms. The image you will see on September 28th will be one of unity. It will represent a coming together of players who want the same things that all of us do—freedom, equality, tolerance, understanding, and justice for those who have been unjustly treated, discriminated against or otherwise treated unfairly. You will see the sons of police officers, kids who grew up in military families, people who have themselves experienced injustice and discrimination firsthand, and an array of others all linking together in a display of unity…

Join us this Thursday by locking arms with whoever you’re with, stranger or loved one, wherever you are—intertwined and included—in this moment of unification.

The Broncos will also be “standing together,” which I assume means arm-in-arm even if their statement doesn’t specify:

The Steelers, who had so many headaches last Sunday after the misunderstanding with Alejandro Villanueva? Yep, they’ll be standing too, apparently. “I promise you one thing, this week we will all be standing out there for the national anthem. Trust me,” said center Maurkice Pouncey. “As far as I know it’s 100 percent participation.” Coincidentally, the online ticket reseller TickPick told the Washington Examiner today that NFL ticket sales are down 17.9 percent this week compared to 10.8 percent at this time a year ago. Protest’s a fine thing but there are bills to pay.

Not everyone’s ready to back off, though. Via the IJR, Titans tight end Delanie Walker wants angry fans to know that if they don’t like the protests they can always change the channel:

“First off, I’m going to say this: We’re not disrespecting the military, the men and women that serve in the Army. That’s not what it’s all about,” Titans tight end Delanie Walker said. “If you look at most of the guys in here – I’ve been in the USO. I support the troops. This is not about that. It’s about equal rights, and that’s all everyone is trying to show, is that we all care about each other.

“And the fans that don’t want to come to the game? I mean, OK. Bye. I mean, if you feel that’s something, we’re disrespecting you, don’t come to the game. You don’t have to. No one’s telling you to come to the game. It’s your freedom of choice to do that.”

The Titans haven’t made the playoffs in nearly 10 years. Does he really want to call this bluff?

Here’s Pouncey sounding like he and the Steelers have had enough drama to last them the rest of the season. Speaking of paying the bills, your exit question: Why didn’t TV networks show angry, booing NFL fans Sunday or Monday?