With the National Football League poised to alienate a majority of its fans this season by going completely woke, its least-popular team owner can emerge as the man who saves the sport from itself.
Help us, Dan Snyder! You're our only hope!
Soon after New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees apologized for allegedly "insensitive" comments that he would "never agree with anybody disrespecting the (American) flag," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell waved a flag of surrender to the mob. "We the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier," he declared from his bunker.
While it's unclear what might emerge from this Pandora's huddle, it does seem likely to turn off many loyal fans.
If there even is a pro football season this year, don't expect anyone to enforce the 2018 policy that players "shall stand and show respect for the flag and the (national) anthem." After Goodell's capitulation, several players immediately announced they'd take a knee this season. And Goodell even said he would "encourage" a team to sign has-been quarterback Colin Kaepernick — the kneeler-in-chief who has since gone on to monetize his activism and create a media empire.
The NFL will attempt to prove it isn't racist by playing the gospel song "Lift Every Voice and Sing" — the "Black national anthem" — alongside "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the first week's games. Players will also be "wearing their hearts on their feet" through the "My Cause, My Cleats" program and will feature social justice branding on helmets, jerseys and the field itself.
Fans probably remember that the NFL once threatened to fine Tennessee Titans linebacker Avery Williamson for wanting to wear 9/11-themed "Never Forget" cleats. Things have changed.
And the anthems? A recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll found a majority of NFL fans want players standing. More important, fans opposed to kneeling expect to watch markedly fewer games (and the lucrative commercials that play during them) once the NFL goes woke. Black fans say they think the Black anthem is simply "pandering."
Enter Mr. Snyder.
A lifelong fan of the Washington Redskins, he made his fortune in marketing and bought the team 20 years ago. Despite the 2013 statement that he'd "NEVER" bow to protests and change the team's name, the wave of wokeness forced him to "retire" the name in July.
In a stroke of genius, he didn't quickly settle on a new name. For now, the controversial former Washington Redskins are the bland Washington Football Team. Critics call this "ridiculous," but it's certainly not offending anyone like the Vikings, Chiefs and 49ers do.
It's time to go the full nine yards. It's time for Snyder to take one for the team. It's time for him to take one for the NFL.
He owns a blank slate in a league at risk of losing its way and losing its fans. This is a unique opportunity to put his marketing know-how to work and make a statement about the politicization of professional sports, if he's got the guts, he could bring the NFL back to neutral.
What he must do is make game day a politically correct spectacle.
It should be obvious that cheerleaders are out. But so should be excessive fan cheering, monitored by security made up only of social workers (with police protection defunded, come at your own risk). No sacks or touchdown dances.
No excessive scoring. In baseball, Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres (another team name that needs changing!) was recently forced to apologize for hitting a grand-slam home run because his team was already up seven runs late in the game. The Washington Football Team should never allow such grandstanding.
Forget about hot dogs and nachos. New concessions will focus on healthy fare like tofu Not Dogs. Beers? Please! Kale smoothies (no straws) are loaded with antioxidants and nutrients. And don't think about pregaming in the parking lot — tailgating will be prohibited because all the good spots will be reserved for pricey hybrid and electric vehicles.
And no anthems. No national anthem, no Black national anthem. No bands. No tributes to veterans, volunteers or victims.
In other words, no fun.
Someone must do something, because Goodell has abdicated authority to the woke scolds. In making a spectacle, at least for one game, the Washington Football Team could draw enough attention to football's dystopian future to bring sanity back to sports.
It's a costly prospect, but Dan Snyder is a billionaire. Bringing the NFL back to its senses? That's priceless.
ABOUT THE WRITER
David W. Almasi is vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a Washington think tank. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
This essay is available to Tribune News Service subscribers. TNS did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of TNS or its editors
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