Bob McNair and the Houston Texans

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

30 October 2017

Bob McNair, player protests and the real NFL problem

NFL players sit during the National Anthem. The Houston Texans practically revolt after owner Bob McNair says the NFL can’t let “the inmates run the prison.” Ratings decline, and long-term concerns linger.

What’s going on here?

The current situation of the NFL presents a case study in belief systems, precepts that drive behavior. No matter what side you stand (or sit) on, your reaction is a reinforcement of what you already believe.

Let’s take the Bob McNair comment. In an astounding ESPN story, written by Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta last week, McNair tells player representatives the “inmates” statement. He later apologizes, including a hilarious explanation that the inmates are league officials. Not players.

Bob McNairBut the Houston players didn’t buy it. At least two players walked out of practice Friday and most of the team knelt during the national anthem Sunday. Who to support? Well, it depends on your own belief system.

“But the comment by Bob McNair was about the worst thing that could happen to both the sides. It’s the match in the flaming sea. It just confirms what players already think. It also has supporters.”

The belief systems of Bob McNair, players, fans and other owners

The players believe owners treat them like cattle, just another commodity to be sold and bought. That’s why their reaction was so emotional.

Fans upset with the protests themselves believe players are spoiled and overpaid athletes with no loyalty to country, the flag and the military. So suit up and get back to practice.

Lost among all this is that players are not protesting the flag. They’re protesting treatment of Afro-Americans in this country and the racism that still exists. But the symbolism of the national anthem protests confuses the issue.

My stance? The United States of America is a free country. So if players want to sit as a sign of protest, that’s their right. It’s also your right to stop watching as a sign of protest.

But the comment by Bob McNair was about the worst thing that could happen to both the sides. It’s the match in the flaming sea. It just confirms what players already think. It also has supporters. While Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones hasn’t commented on McNair’s statement, he told players they wouldn’t play if they protested.

Here’s the thing. For the NFL to move past this, it has to align its actions and messages with the belief systems that exist on both sides. It must show it’s serious about supporting the players’ causes while demonstrating control over the protests. That fact that it hasn’t, and has let this issue fester, is one of the reasons why commissioner Roger Goodell suddenly finds himself on the hot seat.

In the age of Trump, it’s difficult to ignore the caustic language. But, for the NFL, it finds itself at a tipping point. Address the beliefs, like anyone in branding, and you create loyalty.

See more posts in the following related categories: Bob McNair Jerry Jones NFL NFL player protests Roger Goodell

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