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NFL Changes Stance on Player Protests

The National Football League (NFL), the governing body of the most popular sport in American, has changed its stance on players who choose to protest before games by kneeling during the National Anthem.

The practice was started in 2016 by Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers, who began to take to his knee to protest against racial injustice and social discrimination.

A number of other black players followed his lead, provoking a furious response from the league and some team owners, with President Trump adding to the controversy by labelling many of the players as unpatriotic. 

Kaepernick himself was fired by the 49ers and then filed a lawsuit against the NFL alleging collusion amongst team owners, none of whom would hire him apparently because of his political views. That matter was settled out of court last year.

And now, with the racial divisions and tensions in American society now evident once more in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the Afro-American who died in police custody in Minneapolis, the issue has become prominent once more.

Earlier this week, Drew Bees, another quarterback, this time with the New Orleans Saints, made clear his views that he would not support any player who chose to make his feelings known by kneeling during the anthem during the coming season. 

Trump piled in to support him, but now Bees has withdrawn his comments after a furious backlash on social media. He has realised that his remarks were insensitive and lacked empathy and has apologised for the pain he has caused within the black community.

And now the NFL has publicly reversed its own stance on the matter, with Commissioner Roger Goodell making his own admission on social media that the league were wrong not to listen to the views of players earlier. He also said the Black Lives Matter and that, without black players, there would be no NFL. 

When the new season of the NFL does get underway, many more players can now be expected to kneel, much to the ire of Trump and his supporters. 

Shantanu Gupta predominantly writes for the sister sites of Inplay Cricket India, Inplay Sports India and Indian Cricket World. Having grown up around the intense rivalries of cricket Shantanu took to a journalistic career in following the sport whilst also remaining mindful of other key sports of interest to Indian sports fans. You’ll see him not only writing about cricket but also covering football, tennis and more.

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