So how does it all end? As more NFL players protest the anthem, and others are compelled to talk politics—“Telling me to keep (quiet) on political issues and ‘just’ focus sports is like me telling you to commit suicide instead of focusing on living,” tweeted Lions running back Ameer Abdullah recently—is there an off-ramp for the league? Or are anthem protests, and the attendant monitoring of who’s standing and who’s sitting part and parcel of a new NFL experience?
Charles Grantham, a former leader of the NBA players association, suggested to me that the league could throw some money at the players to placate them. He thought guaranteeing a quarter of a percent of league revenue to social justice causes, like funding the sports programs at the public schools in the 32 NFL cities, would be a good place to start. “That’s how you go from protesting to making a difference in communities,” he said. But whether players want to go to the mat in collective bargaining is its own high hurdle.
Edwards is convinced that as long as Trump is president, it does not matter what the league does.