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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Gerald McCoy: NFL would cause ‘uproar’ by forcing players to stand for anthem

Gerald McCoy

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to all 32 teams on Tuesday informing them that the league would prefer it if players stood during the national anthem, but creating a rule banning anthem protests is not likely to happen.

And if it did, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Gerald McCoy believes the reaction would not be pretty.

“I think it’s gonna be a negative reaction,” McCoy said on Adam Schefter’s podcast Wednesday. “I don’t think guys are gonna like it. I think it’s gonna be an uproar if that is to happen because you’re basically taking away a constitutional right to freedom of speech. If guys wanna have a — I guess you would call it a peaceful protest — I don’t think it’s right to take that away from guys.”

McCoy’s opinion is likely shared by most across the NFL. In his letter, Goodell urged teams to move past the national anthem controversy and wrote “we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem.” Donald Trump took that to mean the NFL was ordering players to stand.

Shortly after Trump sent that tweet, the NFL released a statement clarifying that it has made no such demand.

“Commentary this morning about the Commissioner’s position on the Anthem is not accurate,” the league said. “As we said yesterday, there will be a discussion of these issues at the owners meeting next week. The NFL is doing the hard work of trying to move from protest to progress, working to bring people together. Commissioner Goodell spent yesterday with Miami Dolphins players, law enforcement and community leaders witnessing first-hand the outstanding work our players and clubs are doing to strengthen their communities. Players from around the league will be in New York next week to meet with owners to continue our work together.”

McCoy added that he supports any of his teammates who chose to kneel.

“I had two teammates who did it in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, that’s their right to do that,” he said. “And if they’re gonna do it, they’re gonna have support of the whole team.

“But if you take that away from them, there’s gonna be an uproar — it’s just gonna happen — because now it’s just like you have a voice at one point, but then you don’t at this point. And, that’s our right … it’s a constitutional right that we have, and if you take that away, I don’t think people are gonna take too kindly to it.”

We know one NFL owner who would be in favor of the league passing a rule about anthem protests, but Goodell knows that would create a public relations nightmare. The chances of a rule being implemented seem slim.

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