Jarrett Bell's USA Today re-cap of Thursday's opening NFL exhibition game protests can be best summarized as "three cheers for the social justice warriors!" who stood up to President Donald Trump (see his tweets in photo). Bell lauds the SJW's for their actions: "A knee here, a fist there," as opposed to the "Obligatory tweet-bashing from President Trump. Yes, the NFL is back for another round of football, social consciousness, patriotism and politics."
More truthfully ordered, it would be social consciousness and politics followed by football and patriotism.
Bell comes off as giddy in writing, "One thing that was clear with the first full slate of preseason games: The protest movement in the NFL still has much momentum." He raved about the four Jacksonville Jaguars who protested the anthem by staying in the clubhouse – Telvin Smith, Leonard Fournette, Jalen Ramsey and T.J. Yeldon:
"Fournette and Ramsey are arguably the Jaguars’ best two players, while Smith, a team captain, is one of the most respected men in the locker room. For what it’s worth, two years after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick launched this movement, the Jaguars contingent is hardly lacking clout."
Bell added that by remaining in the locker room during the national anthem in Seattle, the Seahawks' Duane Brown, Branden Jackson and Quinton Jefferson "advanced the ball after players sat during the anthem last year." He took delight in the locker room option for the SJWs because that choice originated with the NFL's short-lived anthem policy requiring respect from players who actually appeared on the field for the Star-Spangled Banner.
The writer acknowledged the optics of one team on the field standing for the anthem while members of the opposing team remained inside "would drive some people crazy."
As the regular season approaches in the next month, Bell expects many NFL players, particularly African-American players, to ponder what their personal policy on the anthem will be. He says they can look to the defending NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles for inspiration:
"The Eagles surely proved during their title run last season that a team can still take care of business on the field while raising consciousness off it."
Barely off the field, on the sidelines, helping to lower the NFL's approval rating among a shrinking fan base.
Before their game against Pittsburgh Thursday, Eagles' safety Malcolm Jenkins and some of his teammates sported T-shirts "with social messages that were so much bigger than the game. The front of the shirt read: 'More than 60% of prison populations are people of color. On the back of the shirt: 'Nearly 5,000 kids are in adult prisons and jails. #SchoolsNotPrison.'"
The Miami Dolphins' Robert Quinn also earned kudos from Bell for saying, "It's a free country and I’m just holding my fist up for unity.'"
The protesters are all so thoughtful to Bell, but President Trump deserves nothing but scorn. In a tweet, he implored players to, “Be happy, be cool,” "as he mangled facts and reiterated a desire for dissenters to be suspended.":
"When Trump declares, as he did in Friday’s tweet, that most players are 'unable to define' their reasons for protesting, he only makes himself look worse because he’s brushing aside the thoughtfulness that Jenkins and so many other players have demonstrated."
We’ve come to expect the skewed retaliation from Trump, Bell says, speaking for an unidentified group. "Trump's attempts to bully or intimidate the NFL now appear to be producing diminishing returns. He has tweeted dozens of times about the NFL and protests, and the weight of his messages seemingly are getting weaker with each tweet, while the anthem policy is on ice."
NBC's broadcast of the Chicago-Baltimore game scored a 1.8 rating among adults ages 18-49, down from the 2.2 rating of last year’s first preseason game on the same network. That's a significant 18-percent decline.