Arthur Blank on NFL kneelers: ‘Players have no interest in being disrespectful to flag’

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank joins arms with his players during the playing of the national anthem prior to the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field earlier this season. Leon Halip/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has Tweeted up a storm this morning, on topics ranging from basketball patriarch LaVar Ball, whose son was picked up for shoplifting in China, to a downed U.S. Navy cargo plane off Okinawa. We’ll focus on this one:

Trump is apparently referencing a highly sourced Washington Post article published on Tuesday that began thusly:

Some NFL owners believe there is a strong possibility they will enact an offseason change to the league’s national anthem policy if players’ protests during the anthem persist through the end of this season, reverting to a previous approach of keeping players in the locker room while the anthem is played, according to several people familiar with the league’s inner workings.

We reference this because GPB’s Rickey Bevington posted a wide-ranging interview with Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank late Tuesday. Among the topics covered was anthem-kneeling. Blank defended his players:

“It’s very clear that the players have no interest whatsoever in being disrespectful to the flag or the anthem. I think that what they’re trying to do is get some attention on what they view as some of the social injustice issues we’re dealing with.

“Dealing with facts relating to racism, dealing with facts relating to criminal injustice, bail procedures, police accountability. They have close relationships with policemen and policewomen. I think police accountability, like life accountability, is important.

“They also understand the country. And this is my view — that the flag is a fabric. I think the flag stands for certain things. It stands for our Constitution. It stands for our civil rights. It stands for all of our Amendments that go with the Constitution….”

On a related note, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point you to this piece by the AJC’s Eric Stirgus:

Kennesaw State University president Sam Olens did not follow state guidance when the university made a change that kept cheerleaders from kneeling on the football field during the national anthem, a report released Tuesday concluded.

University System of Georgia officials told Olens and the presidents of its public universities during a two-day October meeting that taking a knee during the anthem is free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution and should not be interfered with, unless it causes a disruption. Any changes by a college should be discussed with the USG.

The Saturday after that meeting, KSU implemented a change that kept its cheerleaders in its stadium tunnel before the anthem. That was a week after five cheerleaders had first taken a knee on the field. Olens did not discuss the change with USG officials, who learned about it through an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.

***

After remaining silent for more than a week, President Donald Trump all but endorsed Roy Moore, the U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama, discounting the sexual assault allegations against him and insisting repeatedly that voters must not support Moore’s “liberal” rival. From the Associated Press:

The president said he would announce next week whether he will campaign for Moore, who faces Democrat Doug Jones in a Dec. 12 special election to fill the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“Roy Moore denies it, that’s all I can say,” Trump said Tuesday. In fact, he repeated 10 times in a 5-minute session outside the White House that the GOP candidate has denied any wrongdoing.

Trump’s decision puts him at odds with the Republican National Committee, which has withdrawn its support from Moore, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

How does the Alabama fracas stand? According to fivethirtyeight.com, “the average of surveys fielded after the first accusations shows the race exactly tied.”

***

Immediately after he was sworn in nearly eight years ago, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed tackled the city’s underfunded pension system. As he leaves, it appears the topic is still on his mind.

Some of the parties involved are raising the alarm about a proposed ordinance that would allow the mayor to appoint a majority of the trustees of a consolidated pension board that oversees $3 billion in assets. Click here to download a Nov. 7 letter to City Council from Doug Strachen, who chairs the General Employees’ Pension Fund. Or simply read it here:

***

A case now before the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging a Texas state policy that requires faculty to permit concealed weaponry in college classrooms, bears some watching for potential impact here.

Here’s a line or five from the amicus brief filed by the American Association of University Professors:

“[The] decision whether to permit or exclude handguns in a given classroom is, at bottom, a decision about educational policy and pedagogical strategy.

It predictably affects not only the choice of course materials, but how a particular professor can and should interact with her students—how far she should press a student or a class to wrestle with unsettling ideas, how trenchantly and forthrightly she can evaluate student work.

Permitting handguns in the classroom also affects the extent to which faculty can or should prompt students to challenge each other.

The law and policy thus implicate concerns at the very core of academic freedom: They compel faculty to alter their pedagogical choices, deprive them of the decision to exclude guns from their classrooms, and censor their protected speech.”

Reader Comments 0

47 comments
jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

If the tax plan is passed, giving huge breaks to the 1% and raising the deficit $1.5 trillion, Republican leaders will rediscover "the deficit crisis" and move aggressively to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

Donald Trump has attacked:

Colin Kaepernick who is black. Frederica Wilson who is black. Lavar Bell who is black. Steph Curry who is black. Jemele Hill who is black. Notice any pattern?

Wily
Wily

Thank you Arthur Blank, an intelligent man in a swirling sea of ignorance. You fully explained the situation and these people are too racist to figure it out.

The flag is fabric, but stands for freedoms not yet given to all our citizens. No one is disrespecting anything, except ignorance, that our country does not deliver on the freedoms and rights promised to all.

DarrylWD
DarrylWD

Injustices my ads. All lies. ALL studies, ALL and FB stats proves their is no injustices. Look in a mirror black America.

Placebo Effect
Placebo Effect

 Falcons usually stay in the locker after the half and go to the locker for showers after the 3rd. Might as well miss the Anthem, too.

newshound65
newshound65

Arthur,

You'll never get another dollar from me to watch your team play and I fully expect you'll be getting a whole lot less money from the networks and cable channels in the future as millions are tuning out and finding better things to do than watch tattooed thugs play a child's game.  Guess what?  The $$ value of your team is about to suffer a serious drop.


RozwullRalph
RozwullRalph

Arthur your wrong.  The Court long ago decided that 1st Amendments rights are not absolute e.g. the "time, place and manner" test.  So somebody can urinate on the front door of the Ebenezer Baptist Church and say they were just cleaning it off??? Come on Man....You've always been the Players lackey ever since you pushed Michael Vick around in his wheelchair...jeez...enjoy your game and your new Stadium...



GeorgeJuarez
GeorgeJuarez

Hey Arthur you're getting senile if you think that kneeling for the national anthem is not disrespecting the military and our country, good luck on your season ticket holders for next year. I didn't watch the Super Bowl last year because of Colin's stupidity and Atlanta played in the game. Last year was the first Super Bowl that I have missed in my life as I have seemed them all and don't intend to return to watching the NFL ever, not in this lifetime. The only way you will get some of the fans back is if the NFL fires Roger the Dodger Goodell and have the players stand for the Anthem because if this doesn't happen it's going to be bye bye to the NFL, you're letting the lunatics run the insane asylum and you''re agreeing with them which means that you're also disrespecting our military and country

laneyw
laneyw

@GeorgeJuarez Sorry but it's not, you keep thinking it is NOW that drumpf has said it is.

Arthur650
Arthur650

Anyone who disagrees with you is in it for the $$? 

HRPuff
HRPuff

Sorry, Arthur. They have nothing BUT disrespect for the country, the flag, and the people who fought and died for their "right" to spit in the face of those who served (and their surviving families). But it's all about the money, isn't it Arthur? As long as they're cashing your checks and bringing you in millions, you'll support anything they do, I guess.

Arthur650
Arthur650

@HRPuff Anyone with a differing POV must be in it for the $$? OK!

Donald_01
Donald_01

Hey Arthur - See those empty seats in your new football palace?  Comments like yours will mean more of them unless you give away the tickets.  It is not about Trump, it is about respecting all those that fought so the whining millionaires can make that kind of money.  Your guys are biting the hand that feeds them. Wait until that huge tax break the NFL gets because it is non-profit goes away next year.

Jwade
Jwade

Arthur Blank you are disgusting!!  These ingrates will never be satisfied.  Their so called grievances are not valid.  Let them be more specific about them and then let's deal with them.  They are simply anti-american and are in no way patriotic.  I'll never support your "find a way to lose" Falcons again!!  

laneyw
laneyw

Is it just the black players or only the white players

Arthur650
Arthur650

@Jwade They're more American than you are! Stop trying to muzzle people!

An Intelligent Georgian
An Intelligent Georgian

@Jwade If you think their grievances are not valid then you are VERY out of touch with the reality of being black today.  And if you think that it is anti-American to protest, then you know little of our traditions.

SJGM
SJGM

NO ONE should kneel against our flag or national anthem. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Find another way to protest whatever. But kneeling against our country's flag is a stand against the United States. We have things to work on, true. But this is not unifying and looks bad across the world. It's shameful.

laneyw
laneyw

Wasn't about the flag but thanks to drumpf it is

Arthur650
Arthur650

@SJGM Police killing black people looks bad across the world and it's shameful! so stop doing that.

An Intelligent Georgian
An Intelligent Georgian

@SJGM No, it isn't against the United States:  it is against the ingrained culture of white privilege and supremacy.   

laneyw
laneyw

For reDUMBlicans to say we would rather have a reDUMBlican in the Senate instead of a democrat is mind boggling.

Party before country. 2018 looking better and better for progressives.

laneyw
laneyw

Drumpf old fat ignorant A@@

MickDee
MickDee

I promise all you lovers of America I am not peeing on the flag.


I have nothing against the flag.


When I take a knee, I am SYMBOLICALLY PEEING ON DONALD J. TRUMP.

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

@MickDee yea...seems our system is flawed....trump and a GOP bought and paid for by Russia....


We have to be sure that this can never happen again....if we survive this bullet.

JK1951
JK1951

We're still Falcon fans but the amount of empty seats I see in the stadium is alarming. It looks like the Braves of old when Turner used to give away tickets to fill a section for tv.

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

White man is a pedophile

Defend him Black man doesn't say "thank you" to Trump Condemn him

booger hux4952
booger hux4952

Way to go, Arthur.....

Yeah, agree with your baby acting, spoiled players who ARE disrespecting our flag AND country...

A 'fabric'?


OUR flag stands for everything we are, have been -AMERICANS-


tell your thug employees to take their b-s platform elsewhere.

YOU know you are losing more and more everyday by THEIR actions...


YOU are hoping this going away...


It is not. Mr. Trump is correct.

An Intelligent Georgian
An Intelligent Georgian

Your are right: our flag stands for everything we are, have been -- and that includes very ugly things that have got to stop, such as the institutional and cultural racism of America.  Asking a black person to stand up and pledge allegiance to a flag that stands for that, among the good things it stands for, is like asking a women to salute her rapist.

NorthAtlanta
NorthAtlanta

It seems Arthur needs to read Colin Kaepernick’s own statement about why he was kneeling. It was very specifically about disrespecting the flag and the country.