Shannon Sharpe discusses Roger Goodell’s anthem memo to NFL teams

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Oct 11, 2017 at 4:43p ET

Shannon Sharpe gives his take on the recent memo sent out by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell regarding protocol for players during the national anthem.

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– The NFL's in for a battle, Skip. I think you and I both believe that.

– Hm mm.

– And if I'm the players, I'm not giving in. And you know why I'm not giving in, Skip? Because if you give in on this, guess what? They're going to start demanding that all teams go to the White House.

That's– because once you start giving something, it's not how much someone will take. How much will you give? And you see, that's what we know about the NFL owners. See, the NFL owners and the players are in a very unique situation, Skip.

They got– the owners got to where they got by not backing down. The players got to where they got by not backing down. So you're on a collision course. This could have been handled so early.

But like a lot of people thought, the NFL owners and the commissioner thought this was a fad. They thought this thing was going to go away. See, the NFL is reactionary. This is what we know about them.

SKIP BAYLESS: It is, I agree.

– They are very, very reactionary. They thought this would go away. They also thought, if we white-ball Colin Kaepernick, not let him back in the league, out of sight, out of mind. No, no, no. Skip, I find it very ironic.

And I read this– I read this statement memo. I read it like five times. 424 words exactly, he mentioned flag once. He mentioned anthem three times. He mentioned country five times.

How many times did he mentioned one issue in which Colin Kaepernick took a knee for? How many times did he mention the reason why Malcolm Bennett– I mean, Malcolm Jenkins and Michael Bennett? Why is Michael Bennett sitting? Why is Malcolm Jenkins still raising a fist?

You see, the commissioner and the owners– we keep talking about these controversies, these underlying issues. But see, they don't want these actual issues tied to them. I can't say anything about police brutality. I can't say anything about social injustice. Because see, Skip, if I just read this, I'm like, OK, somebody is being very, very unpatriotic here.

I mean, I see flag. I see anthem. I see country, so what's the problem? The problem, Commissioner, is that, while you talk about the flag and the country and patriotism, we want to hear you talk about the issue in which Colin Kaepernick led– which led Colin Kaepernick to do what he did. We want to hear you say it.

See, Skip, you can't go treat an addiction and say, OK, I'm here. OK, what's your addiction? I'm here. You've got to tell them what you're addicted to.

Commissioner, we want to hear you say there's police brutality. We want to hear you say there's social injustice. We want to hear you say there's inequality that's going on in America.

Skip, you saw AP. The nurse– that the police showed up in Utah, and they tried to get the blood. It was a white nurse.

Police officer was fired. He was fired for trying to get blood. They say she was assaulted.

You kill a black man, woman, or child, you're not fired. You're put on paid administrative leave. And if you so happen to be charged, you'll go to court, and you get to walk home free. This is what we're talking about. Skip, there's something that you mention, too, a lot. It's called the Fritz Pollard–

SKIP BAYLESS: Alliance.

– What does that do, Skip?

– It oversees the Rooney Rule and tries to ensure equality in hiring in the National Football League, in hiring at the executive level and at the head coaching and assistant coaching level.

– They had to put that into the league, the very league that Commissioner Goodell resides over. So if you've got to put that in there for them, what do you think is going on in a normal society, in normal everyday America? You see it, Commissioner. And see, Skip, although the owners and the NFL giving money would be commendable, I don't even want their money because you can throw $2 million at a problem and hope it goes away.

I want your influence. I want– when you try to get these stadiums built, and you put pressure on these legislators, that's what I want you to do. When you want to get the Super Bowl to come to your city, and you put pressure on people, that's what we want you to do. We want you to put pressure on the people that's in position– the lawmakers, the policymakers, that enact how police officers interact with people of color in their communities.

We want people held accountable. We don't want them to get paid leave when they're under investigation. I mean, if Fox were to suspend me, I'm not getting paid. Why should a police officer get paid when he's under investigation?

We want accountability. We want it fair. We want it equal. So Commissioner Goodell, if you were serious, if you were really, really serious about wanting to help the players solve these issues that's in their community, you would have mentioned it at least once– at least one issue.

You could've put it in one of these 421 words. But you worded it very carefully. You made sure the people– that the most important thing to you, flag, country, and anthem. I mean, this is what I'm starting to see, Skip.

It's no coincidence that you see the NFL logo is red, white, and blue. But I've noticed, over the last 13, 14 months, they've added another color to the flag. It's red, white, blue, and green because that's the bottom line.

SKIP BAYLESS: Always has been.

– That's the bottom line.

– Always will be.

– And, see, what's happening is these fans say, I'm not going to watch. Ratings dip. I'm not going to buy, so now this is the product. But if I'm the players, I'm not giving this up. Because if I give this up, you're going to start demanding more. Oh, you've got to go to the White House.

Oh, you've got to do this. No, use some of that influence that you use to get the things done that you want to get done, like these fancy new stadiums, like the Super Bowl, like the NFL draft. We want you to use some of that influence to help solve these issues, and the policymakers. See, Dr. King couldn't solve any problem, but he agitated enough of the people that could.

SKIP BAYLESS: He did.

– And that's what Malcolm Jenkins and Michael Bennett are trying to do. They are trying to agitate enough of these owners, they'll say, OK, take your butt to Capitol Hill. Call President Trump. You've got his number. He called you. Call him.

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