Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin calls NFL’s new national anthem policy ‘tone deaf’

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin greets teammate Michael Bennett before Bennett sat during the national anthem at the home game Oct. 1 against Indianapolis. Baldwin said Tuesday "I'm not surprised, I'm disappointed" with the NFL's new policy on national-anthem protesting that owners approved earlier in the day.
Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin greets teammate Michael Bennett before Bennett sat during the national anthem at the home game Oct. 1 against Indianapolis. Baldwin said Tuesday "I'm not surprised, I'm disappointed" with the NFL's new policy on national-anthem protesting that owners approved earlier in the day. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

Tone deaf.

That is what Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin calls the NFL's new national anthem policy.

Baldwin believes Wednesday's announcement by the league is a self-serving, non-collaborative effort by team owners and the league for public-relations optics that ignores why players have been protesting—and doing this:

Entire teams, including coaches, staff, players, stay in lockerroom

"The NFL just doesn't get it," Baldwin told KIRO-AM radio, the team's flagship station in Seattle, on Wednesday.

That was hours after commissioner Roger Goodell announced the league's new policy. It requires "all team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem." It gives players the option to stay off the field during the anthem—and Goodell the power to "impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.​"

"It's more of a PR move, to me, than anything," Baldwin said of the anthem plus other NFL policies and initiatives off the field. "They aren't trying to get to the gist of it.

"I don't think they ever did care about the initiatives, what the players care about. It's just about their bottom line."

Baldwin said "I'm not surprised. The NFL cares about one thing and that's the NFL. That's the bottom line.

"I'm not surprised, I'm disappointed."

Baldwin has been meeting for the last year with police officials across the state and Washington attorney general Bob Fergusion in the player's efforts to get meaningful police reform, especially in the use of deadly force. He established a Seahawks players action fund to help make changes in society. In October, Baldwin wrote and Goodell co-signed a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee considering legislation on criminal justice reform.

When he announced the new policy at the end of league meetings in Atlanta, Goodell said there was unanimous agreement among owners on it.

Well, about that...

Before the afternoon became evening, Newsday reported Christopher Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets, said he would pay any fine the league assesses a Jets players related to the anthem.

San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York told the Bay Area media he abstained from voting on the anthem policy because he first wanted to discuss it with his players.

Not exactly unanimous.

Baldwin wasn't the only NFL player condemning the league's anthem policy. Chris Long, defensive end for the Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles, called it "a fear of a diminished bottom line."

That's in reference to the controversy over players such as Seattle's Michael Bennett sitting and kneeling during the anthem last year. President Trump berated those protesting players in September while NFL television ratings declined and league advertisers got nervous.

Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright was asked about the anthem policy on Seattle's KJR-AM radio Wednesday.

"It's crazy," Wright said.

Then he thought about the mechanics of how pregame activities may go Sept. 9 when the Seahawks open the 2018 season at Denver.

"I believe that to keep everything nice and easy, players should just stay in the locker room," Wright said. "If they want to make such a big deal out of it, maybe guys as a team should just stay in the locker room. Do it how they did, I believe, like 10 years ago, 15 years ago (when) players didn't even come out for the anthem.

"I believe that the union is going to go back and forth with them, and we should just all stay in the locker room."

Wright went on to say this will remain an issue with players until all can form a consensus.

"I think we gotta get this issue resolved before the season, so that everyone is on the same page," Wright told KJR 950-AM.

"We gotta figure out our game plan before the season even starts, and we're going to go forward as a team so it doesn't become an issue. And guys are going to respect each other's decisions, and we're all going to be on one accord."

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