Tom Sorensen

The anthem issue is simple. Why can’t the NFL figure this out?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell AP

The NFL can’t get the national anthem right. The league couldn’t do worse if it practiced. How can an issue so simple become too complex for the most popular sports entity in the country?

After the league’s spring meetings, the NFL announced that players on the field would stand for the anthem. Those that refused would stay in the locker room.

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Clean and neat, right? Not right. Some fans would take attendance and label the players that failed to show unpatriotic.

The NFL wanted to become the ultimate parental authority figure. Oh, oh, company is coming. So let’s banish the bad kids to their (locker) room.

Owners have been instructed by the league not to address the issue. When they do, they can’t help themselves.

Jerry Jones, who owns the Dallas Cowboys, has been critical of players who take a knee during the anthem.

Dallas executive vice president Stephen Jones, who is best known for being the son of Jerry Jones, says players will “toe the line.” They won’t stay in the locker room. They will stand.

I understand the strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Many of you believe that players should be required to stand. I get it. But serious issues have split the country, and some black men have been beaten and killed by those that protect and serve.

If by taking a knee a player calls attention to the issue, why is that wrong? The knee does not imply disrespect for the police or for the military. It’s simply a way, before a game is played, to quietly ask those watching in the stadium or at home to please consider this issue.

That’s all. That’s it. It’s not about being liberal or conservative. It’s simply a non-violent method to raise attention. If you’re the NFL, the biggest sport in the U.S., why not be big enough to step aside and let it go?

The NFL and the players’ union, the NFLPA, are scrambling to resolve the issue before the season begins.

In other news, talented free-agent safety Eric Reid, 26, one of the first players to take a knee, remains unsigned.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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