The NFL's Solution To The Protest Controversy? Make Every Player Wear Patches With This Empty Slogan
Given the NFL’s history, there’s little surprise this was among its first proposed solutions.
In the wake of the continuing NFL anthem protests, a winning strategy to address the divisive issue is proving elusive for players, the owners, and the league itself. In a recent ESPN feature chronicling the fallout from the unprecedented on-field demonstrations, the owners and league officials are depicted navigating the controversy of this scale as a dire financial proposition. In addition to losing both subscribers to DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket and fans in general, the league is also in danger of losing sponsors accretive to the owners’ bottom line as fans associate them with a practice that runs antithetical to their own values.
The ESPN report paints the picture of officials scrambling to work with a constant thorn in the owners’ side — NFL Players Association union head DeMaurice Smith — to unite the players and league. While the outreach and methods may be in earnest to find a resolution that benefits all, the league has a widely criticized track record of paying little more than lip service to the issues that plague its fans and the country at large. The tired overuse of fanfare and gestures by the league has previously drawn criticism during such efforts as the NFL’s pink-hued breast cancer awareness and camouflage-riddled Salute to Service campaigns.
It should come as no surprise following these dubious efforts that the league took a similar tactic in demonstrating that the players and teams were all on the same page when it came to the anthem protests. Their suggestion?
A mandatory patch on all player uniforms that reads simply, “Team America.”
According to ESPN, one owner “simply shook his head: ‘We need to do better than that.’”
Twitter responded predictably to the suggestion that would have been considered a pitch-perfect satire had it not originated from the league itself.
It’s no surprise that the NFL, which has long predicated its social responsibility on garishly colored clothing, would seek to “solve” the issue with a meaningless slogan. However, based on the public and reported internal response, the controversy that threatens the league’s livelihood will require more than an empty marketing effort.