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Corinthians 6:12-20 offers words of wisdom about what we should and shouldn’t do in life. The words inspired this oft-communicated adage: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

Trump-NFL Kerfuffle

That advice well expresses my take on the kerfuffle involving President Trump, NFL players, and the NFL. Cancellation of the Eagles’ White House visit is the most recent round in a back-and-forth contretemps that seems to have no end.

How might we break the impasse? The first step is for each party to recognize the wisdom of the adage, "just because you can, doesn’t mean you should."

Bottom line, Mr. Trump, is that you’ve jumped on the League and NFL players for political purposes. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Mr. President, just because you hold a grudge against the NFL for freezing you out as an owner (twice I might add), don’t lash out at the league. Let the League handle business as it sees fit. And you know full well why NFL players are protesting. They're protesting the treatment of black men by police. Bottom line, Mr. Trump, is that you’ve jumped on the League and NFL players for political reasonsJust because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

NFL owners, you're in way over your heads. Why capitulate to a president who criticizes just about everything you do? Even if you do exactly what Trump wants, he'll move the goalposts and demand more from you. And you enacted a before-game protest policy without consulting the Players’ Association. What a mistake! Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

NFL players, I’m on your side. But I have concerns. There are many ways to protest and protesting at the workplace is just one. But the odd thing is this: you protest on game day and then play the games. Many workers strike. That tells me you neither understand the art of social activism nor have a long-term strategy. Yes, you have the right to free speech. Yes, you can protest at games. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

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How would I resolve the situation? NFL players need to admit that the President knows how to win in a situation like this. And millions of Americans, including a legion of NFL fans, support the new NFL policy.

But all is not lost for the players if they can elevate their game.

The immediate next step should be to forge political ties at the municipal, state, and federal levels. Get city councils, governors, state legislators, and Congress to pay attention to your concerns about how black men are being treated. Provide data. Lobby. Create proposals. Keep the press involved every step of the way. Be relentless in your quest for political responses.

Beyond that, the players need a game plan for change. For that, consider the relevance of Charles Grantham's article in The Undefeated. Grantham, who was the first executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, offers five examples of what to do. Here’s one: support programs to establish stronger relationships between community groups and the police.

And invest your own resources in making change happen. The Eagles' Chris Long is already doing that. Long donated his paycheck from the last ten games of the 2017 season to Pledge 10 for Tomorrow. The money supports educational equity/opportunity programs in three cities where he played pro football--St. Louis, Boston, and Philadelphia.


My advice to NFL players: if you intend to get in this game, play it well. Act strategically, boldly, and with impact. Nothing less will do.

Frank Fear