Posted on September 11, 2020 8:45 am

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With our nation as deeply politically divided as it has been since any living person can remember, the NFL season opener went on as scheduled with last night’s Thursday Night Football. The NFL seems to look a little different every year – especially in today’s pandemic. Most stadiums are allowing fans in at a fraction of the capacity and nearly all stadium authorities have banned tail-gating for the season. However, the game goes on. 

Multiple house-hold NFL names have spoken out about the political and racially charged talking points that current plague American culture. As we remember, New Orleans Saint’s Quarterback Drew Brees was attacked without mercy for public ally denouncing those who refuse to stand for our National Anthem – so much so that he had to public ally apologize across several media platforms and is still taking heat to this day for his patriotic comments. 

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Last night, the NFL opener between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans went on with roughly 16,000 fans in the stadium because of Covid-19 concerns. (Arrowhead Stadium seats nearly 80,000). 

In any case, the game went on the the pre-game festivities, or what is left of them, were aired on Live Television, coast-to-coast. Players from both teams formed a single file chain at center field and linked arms in a show of unity. 

Here’s what it looked like.

In the video, audible “booing” is heard – that’s because the Big Screens at the stadium displayed politically charged messages during this moment.

The good news is that the National Anthem went off without a hitch and kneeling is no longer the go-to move for most players. Instead, players lock arms and stand “in solidarity”. You can decided how the NFL handled today’s political situation.

If you remember, the NFL recently pledged to donate $250-million towards racial equality in the United States. Pundits and critics ran with this story stating the the NFL would officially be funding the controversial organization known as “Black Lives Matter”. This was checked by Politifact – after reading their analysis, we’ve determined that the statement is “Partially True” – here’s what they said. 

“The NFL and our clubs will continue to work collaboratively with NFL players to support programs to address criminal justice reform, police reforms, and economic and educational advancement,” a statement from the league says. It doesn’t mention Black Lives Matter.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently said “Black lives matter” in a video outlining the league’s position, and the league has condemned racism, according to a story in the Undefeated. This new pledge expands on a deal with Players Coalition, a group that negotiated with owners on behalf of players who kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality, the story says. Since that agreement more than two seasons ago, the NFL has donated $44 million to fund social justice work by awarding grants to 20 organizations and 350 grassroots programs.

“Now that fund will balloon to $250 million in all,” according to a story on the NFL’s website, “with the league working with players to identify and work with programs that address criminal justice reform, police reform and economic and educational advancement for African Americans.”

No programs have been announced, so the NFL could decide to donate some of that money to the Black Lives Matter Foundation.

So on the topic of public protests, whether peaceful in nature or otherwise, left-leaning Forbes Magazine weighed in on the conversation.

This summer, Goodell apologized to Kaepernick, and encouraged NFL players to peacefully protest. Trump immediately questioned Goodell, and this week, Eric Trump tweeted he was “done” watching the NFL after a Dallas Cowboys player said they have been given the green-light to protest prior to games this season.

While new polling on the topic of kneeling during the anthem shows the action is becoming less divisive — a Washington Post poll finds 59% of Americans say kneeling during the national anthem is an appropriate way to protest racial injustice — it remains a supercharged issue for Trump. He’s taken to remarking how player activism is hurting the NBA’s TV ratings, with viewership slipping during the restart.

The NFL ratings will be a referendum on social justice movements; the league’s coronavirus numbers will be a referendum on our nation’s ability to handle the virus. All the while, the loudest voices will be weighing in.

Many Americans don’t like the idea of players using their fame to conduct political lobbying – and the idea of the NFL being a privately owned company is being used as a talking point for people on both sides of the political aisle. Ratings for NFL games have been trending down over the last few years in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s actions that sparked the anti-American athletic revolution. We’ll have to wait and see what this year’s ratings look like.

With September 11th memorials the next day, the NFL’s handling of political and cultural talking points became all the more scrutinized. Newsweek‘s Katherine Fung spoke with Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani on it.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani condemned Black Lives Matter protesters and NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, as he reflected on the September 11 attacks almost two decades later.

Giuliani, who held office during the terrorist attacks, blamed protesters and professional athletes for the lack of unity across the nation, which he said had been much stronger 19 years ago.

“We’ve become much more divisive. We’ve lost a certain percentage of patriotism. I don’t remember anyone taking a knee back in 2001,” Giuliani told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo when asked what has changed since the attacks. “I don’t remember people burning flags 20 years earlier. I don’t remember people saying hateful things about America. How horrible we are. How horrible our founders are. We’ve got a whole ‘hate America’ movement going on.”

The show will go on in the NFL and we’ll keep you up to date as the sporting world collides with the political world. On September 11th, 2020, from all of us here at Trending Politics, we send our gratitude and respect to our first-responders and the brave men and women that help keep our country united.  

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