Fans upset with protests can fight back
The Browns play their final game of the preseason Aug. 31 against former Mentor High School quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears in Chicago. What happens before the game could be more suspenseful than what happens during it.
If the Browns have something planned while the national anthem is sung in Soldier Field prior to the 8 p.m. kickoff, they aren’t saying what it is.
About a dozen Browns players held their own ceremony during the national anthem before the preseason game against the Giants on Aug. 21 at FirstEnergy Stadium. Some knelt in prayer while others showed their support by resting a hand on the shoulder of a teammate praying.
Five nights later, about 30 Browns players stood and locked arms in a show of solidarity while the national anthem was performed before the preseason game against the Buccaneers in Tampa.
Players have a right to protest. To the fans bothered deeply by what some players are doing: If it really, truly offends you, remember you have a right to protest, too. Protest with your wallets.
Television ratings for NFL games last season were reportedly down 8 percent. Several reasons are theorized to have caused the decline, including the 2016 presidential election, concussions, oversaturation — and Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem.
This is painting with a wide brush, I know, but many fans insulted by Kaepernick and other protesters vehemently say they refuse to watch NFL games until the anthem protests end. Then they attend games or watch them on television anyway.
Believing in a cause but doing nothing about it won’t change anything. Kaepernick last year told NFL.com he would not “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Though it wasn’t his intention, Kaepernick has apparently sacrificed his football career for what he believed was a just cause. On March 2 of this year, a week before the start of free agency, he gave notice he would no longer sit or kneel for the national anthem, rationalizing what he did last year prompted other players to follow his path — also, perhaps, rationalizing (correctly, it is turning out) no owner or general manager wants the distraction of having him on their team.
Kaepernick is better than most backup quarterbacks in the league — Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan come to mind — but can’t get a job.
It would be a long, long process, but if angry fans stop attending and watching games, if gate receipts and television revenue to teams slide backward, the salary cap would shrink and that would hit players where it hurts most — their bank accounts. Agents would get the message to their players, and that would end the player protests.
As for the game with the Bears, Browns coach Hue Jackson would prefer not to play it, but play it they must. The Browns are 3-0 in preseason and want to keep the momentum heading into the regular season opener Sept. 10 against the Steelers.
“There is no question we wish we could (play only three preseason games), but we get it,” Jackson said. “This is a game that’s scheduled. We have to play it. We’re going to show up and play and our players understand that. That’s the mentality that I want our team to have.”
Jackson said he hasn’t decided whether starting quarterback DeShone Kizer will play against the Bears or for that matter how long the starters will play, if at all.
Jackson is more interested in determining backup jobs at wide receiver and the secondary and finding a starting tight end among Seth DeValve, David Njoku and Randall Telfer.
The final preseason game could also determine the winner between Cody Parkey and Zane Gonzalez for the kicking job before rosters are cut to 53 on Sept. 2.
Schudel can be reached at jschudel@news-herald. com; on Twitter: @jsproinsder
Browns players lock arms during the playing of the national anthem before the preseason game against the Buccaneers on Aug. 26 in Tampa, Fla.