Yesterday, the Denver Broncos announced they would be standing for the national anthem from now on. The team released a statement about their previous protest and their plans moving forward. “Last week, members of our team joined their brothers around the NFL in a powerful display of unity. It was an emotional time for everyone, including the fans who support us each and every week. As controversial as it appeared, we needed to show our collective strength and resolve. Our voice needed to be heard loud and clear”. Some fans are not pleased with this explanation, and were looking for an apology, which will likely never come. Von Miller, a key leader on the Denver Broncos squad made it clear there will be no apology. Rather, the statement released was an explanation for the team’s actions.
The Denver Broncos did state that they support the military and veterans, and will from now on continue to stand for the national anthem, but they do intend to use their position as a pro sports team to highlight social injustice. “Make no mistake — our actions were in no way a protest of the military, the flag or those who keep us safe. We have nothing but the deepest love and respect for those who protect our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. While there’s no greater country, it’s not perfect. Inequalities still exist, and we have work to do in ALL forms of social justice. We can all do better. It starts with us. We need to do our part and use our platform as NFL players to continue driving that positive change.” This statement released by the team may not be what fans are looking for. However, the actions of the Denver Broncos as a team and organization reflect that they understand their fans are upset, and they took care to address the matter. While the rest of the NFL suffers from the financial consequences of these disrespectful protests, it seems the Denver Broncos are the first team to get the point.
Last week when the Denver Broncos played the Buffalo Bills, 32 Denver Broncos players took a knee during the national anthem. These 32 players, who were among the 200 to take a knee during the national anthem last week, indicated their actions were in response to President Trump’s comments when he referred to kneeling players as SOB’s.
President of Football Operations, John Elway, made it clear he believes in standing for the national anthem, and is likely the driving force behind the Denver Broncos players reversing course when it comes to taking a knee during the national anthem. On Tuesday, John Elway said via the teams website, “I’m one that believes in standing for the National Anthem, and I’ve always believed that. I believe that this is the greatest country in the world. We are very fortunate to live here, but it’s obviously not perfect. There are a lot of things that need to be corrected, and we will continue to work on those things.” Mr. Elway continued with his statement saying he understood his players’ position and feelings and indicated that when they took a knee it was their decision and not that of Denver Broncos management. Mr. Elway also expressed his desire to focus more on football and taking politics out of the game, clearly demonstrating he and the Denver Broncos front office are paying attention to what the fans are saying.
The head coach of the Denver Broncos also stated that he believes in standing for the national anthem, yet he allows his players the right to peacefully protest. Still, the message that the Denver Broncos front office is sending balances the need of keeping the players happy and to a point appeasing fans who were offended by the team’s actions.
Perhaps the real motivators for the Denver Broncos were the latest financial statistics and viewership numbers to be released. Ticket sales have dropped 17.9% compared to last week, ratings took an 11% drop league wide, and DIRECTTV has started to refund customers for their NFL Sunday Ticket subscriptions. Still, many fans feel slighted by the NFL and feel these apology statements don’t do enough. Regaining the trust of fans is going to take a much longer time than it took to break that trust. Fortunately, the Denver Broncos realized this.