Five National Football League (NFL) teams chose to stay off the field Sunday as the national anthem played.
Sunday marked the first full day of games in the 2020-21 season. The Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dophins and New York Jets all stayed in their locker rooms, Forbes reported. It was a gesture of support for the protests that flared this summer after the death of George Floyd.
It is not mandatory for NFL teams to be present on the field for the anthem, according to the New York Post. Furthermore, no rule exists saying players may not kneel during the anthem.
NFL fans criticize politicization
However, some fans are upset over the politicization of the NFL. And many of them took to Twitter to air their grievances.
“Your [sic] losing fans every day,” Twitter user Jim Crabb tweeted at the NFL. “The stadiums are work places and if the work place has rules and standards for the National Anthem then they need to be followed, players can protest all they want ON THEIR OWN TIME, not on my time.”
Some NFL fans took the opportunity to point out that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protest “dumb and disrespectful.” These protests, they implied, are similar in spirit to burning an American flag.
“While promoting one of her books back in 2016, the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reportedly chastised former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest, calling it ‘dumb and disrespectful’,” Twitter user Jane said.
Still other fans voiced support for the protests. They were in the minority of NFL fans speaking out on Twitter. But they shared their views about the complaints athletes are trying to highlight.
“If you’ve never experienced racism in your lifetime, you’ve got no right to shame NFL or NBA athletes,” Twitter user Miguel Contreras Jr. tweeted.
According to the Daily Mail, a recent poll found 56% of Americans support athletes’ decision to kneel during the anthem. But 42% said the gesture was inappropriate.
“I think the NFL and the Packers are taking a big misstep in making their product not about the game of football and making it about the political agendas of some of its players,” Packers fan Andy Duffrin told the Green Bay Press-Gazette.