The topic of football players standing during the national anthem remains a hot-button issue since former San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick first took the knee in 2016. New York Jets CEO Christoper Johnson has decided to take a stand on the issue and he stands with his players.
Ahead of the NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida where owners are expected to debate the anthem protest including making it mandatory for players to stand, Johnson put his position on the table. “I don’t approve of changing the current status. I can’t speak to how other people run their teams. But I just think that trying to forcibly get the players to shut up is a fantastically bad idea,” he said Sunday to reporters.
Some owners have explicitly stated their preference for players standing during the anthem. Houston Texan’s owner Bob McNair famously argued that “We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” during a meeting with NFL players and executive late last year. Johnson noted that “There’s some discussion of keeping players off the field until after the Anthem. I think that’s a particularly bad idea…. But I’m only one of 32 owners. So, we’ll see how that goes.”
While no resolution is expected this week, ESPN reports that New York Giants owner John Mara wants the league to reach a consensus before its spring meetings, scheduled for May 21-23 in Atlanta.
No players from the Jets took a knee last season but Johnson locked arms with his players on the field. He noted there’s a mutual understanding he shares with his team, “I think that there was an understanding between me and the players that we could use our position… rightly or wrongly, people pay attention to teams and athletes. But we could use that position to actually get some great stuff done off the field. And I think we have done some great things off the field. I have immense respect for the players and their efforts. I think if some of the other teams approached it like that, there wouldn’t be such a problem in the NFL.”