Tuesday, September 26, 2017

History of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ in the NFL and the Involvement of the DoD

The history of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ in the NFL, from tradition to what’s in the rule-book.

The first documented performance of the National Anthem was in Brooklyn in 1862.

As of 2017 there is no mandatory requirement of players regarding the National Anthem in the NFL Rulebook.

The NFL’s rulebook specifically prohibits players from altering their uniforms and accessories to include “writing or illustrations” intended to “convey personal messages.” That included messages that reference “non-football events, causes or campaigns” without prior league approval:

Throughout the period on game-day that a player is visible to the stadium and television audience (including in pregame warm-ups, in the bench area, and during postgame interviews in the locker room or on the field), players are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or otherwise conveying personal messages either in writing or illustration, unless such message has been approved in advance by the League office. Items to celebrate anniversaries or memorable events, or to honor or commemorate individuals, such as helmet decals, and arm bands and jersey patches on players’ uniforms, are prohibited unless approved in advance by the League office.

The National Anthem protests of 2016 and 2017 have not violated regulations as quoted above, because football players participating in those demonstrations have not modified their uniforms or gear. Protests predominantly have involved silent gestures including kneeling or sitting on the sidelines while the anthem is played. However, just before the anthem protest by Colin Kaepernick in 2016, the 49ers quarterback wore dark socks with a pig in a cop's hat.

Kaepernick explaining the wearing of the socks, "I wore these socks, in the past, because the rogue cops that are allowed to hold positions in police departments, not only put the community in danger, but also put the cops that have the right intentions in danger by creating an environment of tension and mistrust. I have two uncles and friends who are police officers and work to protect and serve ALL people. So before these socks, which were worn before I took my public stance, are used to distract from the real issues, I wanted to address this immediately."