This week has been a whirlwind for everything NFL and National Anthem. While we all wish this was as simple as Laurel vs. Yanny, it’s not. That’s why I got so enraged when I saw a meme floating around my Facebook this morning.
Editor’s Note: I know, you guys, it’s another National Anthem Policy and Kneeling article. I hate them too, but as you can see from our facebook page, we still have a lot of people out there who have no understanding of what’s actually happening here. We here at the Turf never set out to be a sports site that dealt with a lot of political and dividing subjects, but if we have to we will be that site. We’re going to leave it all out there on the field, regardless of the topic, sport or hate we might receive along the way.
And Now, New York Mets Minor League Outfielder Tim Tebow as an NFL Quarterback
Tim Tebow is not the droid you are looking for. Tim Tebow knelt in prayer before games, after the anthem, before drives and after touchdowns. Confused about what that means? Here are two examples;
Mike Trout hits a long home run to left field. As he crosses the plate, Trout kisses his hands and points to the sky, presumably thanking God for the strength to crank a 98 MPH fastball 400 feet.
On a similar note, when Renée Elise Goldsberry won her Tony Award for her portrayal of Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton she thanked God by saying, “I can testify in front of you all that the Lord gave me Benjamin and Brielle and then He still gave me [her tony award]! Thank you! Praise God, thank you.”
These are equivalent things. Tebow and Kaepernick are not.
First off, let’s break down the meme.
Tim Tebow never protested abortion in 2012. Tebow was known for “Tebowing” since college and in 2012 he did a Super Bowl ad that was anti-abortion. The extended ad included him and his mother talking about what would have happened if Tim were aborted. What if he wasn’t here? What if the world didn’t have this Superstar quarterback?
Tebow has NEVER, and I stress NEVER for a reason, said his kneeling was in protest to abortion or any other Evangelical or Right-Wing Christian cause. In fact, the only thing he ever said about his kneeling was this:
“Sports can be an opportunity, hopefully used the right way, to be able to share certain things you believe in,” Tebow said. “For me, it was also the way that I tried to do it was a big part of it, as well. Obviously, that’s a big issue in today’s society, and people do it in a lot of different ways. For me, it was just something that my biggest dream, honestly, was to try to be a good role model. And it wasn’t necessarily just the way, in what I did or in how I talked about it. It was also in just the way I would try to treat people.
One of my favorite quotes is ‘Every day I share the gospel, but every now and then I use words,’ you know? Meaning I shared what I believed, hopefully, with the way I treated people and hopefully [with how] I cared for people, whether it was just these fans or talking to you guys or whoever it was. So, hopefully, that was something I shared with people a lot more than anything that I said.”
Tim Tebow’s kneeling was prayer, and oddly enough the NFL has been surprisingly vocal and supportive of players exercising their right to religion. Tebow wasn’t the first and he’s definitely not the last.
In 2014, the Kansas City Chiefs absolutely routed Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. I know because I’m a Patriots fan and I watched the whole thing. It was a bloodbath and Tom Brady didn’t help the situation by throwing an unprecedented number of interceptions. One of those interceptions fell into the hands of defensive back, Husain Abdullah.
Abdullah, doing what most defensive backs are meant to do, took the interception all the way to the end zone for a touchdown and upon entering the end zone, slid on his knees.
In the NFL a two knee slide is a penalty, unsportsmanlike conduct to be specific. The Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1(d) of the NFL rulebook states “players are prohibited from engaging in celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground.”
What the NFL didn’t realize is that Abdullah slid to his knees and stayed on the round because he was praying. Husain Abdullah is a member of the Muslim faith, and praying on two knees is traditional. Still, fans were outraged at the NFL for throwing the flag and not understanding the symbolism of the action and its religious attachment.
The NFL later came out and clarified that Abdullah should not have been penalized saying, “The officiating mechanic is not to flag a player who goes to the ground for religious reasons.”
Andy Reid, the Chiefs Head Coach, even joked after the game saying “When you go to Mecca, you should be able to slide wherever you want. We’ve got two priests [in the locker room] they’d probably vouch for me.”
Even Adbullah’s agent CJ Laboy chimed in on Twitter saying, “If the NFL tries to fine [Abdullah] for his TD celebration there’s going to be some problems.”
After that play, memes of Tebow and Brandon Marshall praying were put side by side and sent around the internet. The message was simple: “How are these not the same thing?”
Back to the Present
How are these not the same thing? Exactly my point. If a player is able to express his religion, then why are the peaceful National Anthem protests somehow not considered a player’s right to free speech?
Well, Ned covered a lot of this in his earlier piece, but I would like to dive into another issue.
Since 2009 the Department of Defense has given the NFL money to have the players on the sidelines for the National Anthem. Prior to that, players weren’t required to be anywhere near the field until kickoff. The DoD gave the NFL $5.3 million dollars in order to have Patriotic displays onfield before the game. That was the only change made to the anthem policy prior to this week’s tomfoolery.
So when the government gets upset with your players protesting during the anthem and taking away focus from the thing you’ve paid for, they’re going to get mad. The NFL responds by creating the dumbest policy in professional sports.
Tebow and Kaepernick Again
So when people try to use Tim Tebow as a weapon against the NFL players peacefully protesting say this: Tim Tebow set a precedent that expressing your beliefs by kneeling whenever, wherever and by whomever, is tolerated by the NFL under the first amendment. Tebow is on the right side of history, but you sharing a fake story about him to divide and pull focus from the issues at hand is counter-intuitive.
Just google something before you post it, you guys. It’s really that simple. Like, Snopes already has it as false.