NFL Draconian Rules Regarding the National Anthem and Protest Are Not New

Photo Credit: By Unknown - 1959 Cornhusker, University of Nebraska, Public Domain

This journey to chronicle the remarkable movement in which we find ourselves continues to reveal interesting nuggets of history.  While it has been discussed extensively that the national anthem became more of a mainstay at sporting events following World War II, what was less known was that an NFL commissioner explicitly required not only standing for the national anthem, but saluting the flag.  Apparently, during the civil rights rebellions of the 60s, Commissioner Pete Rozelle became concerned that NFL players, many of whom were Black, may follow in the footsteps of Tommie Smith and John Carlos who held their power to the people fists high at the 1968 Olympics.  Hence, Rozelle, typical of whites in positions of authority seeking to stifle Black empowerment and challenge to their centuries-long unabated domination, mandated that players stand during the national anthem with their helmet in their left hand, and salute the flag with their right.  In light of the NFL’s recent policy,  there is no reason to believe Roger Goodell and the owners would not themselves come up with a similarly ridiculous extension of the current policy, especially since Donald Trump has made it clear that this issue is one that he does not intend to let go. 

Article below by Olivia B. Waxman at

On Wednesday, the NFL announced that players must either stand for the national anthem when it is played at their games or remain in the locker room; if they come onto the field but don’t stand, their teams will be fined. The decision comes more than a year after San Francisco 49ers then-quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to sit and kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a protest against police brutality, inspiring other players to do the same.

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