Yes, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones kneeled with his team Monday, but he did so before the national anthem played. It was a "useless" gesture, writes Tom Ley at Deadspin, and the look of "self-satisfaction" on Jones' face tells you all you need to know about what's unfolding right now. The NFL, led by Roger Goodell, is cheapening what had been a very real, and necessarily divisive, protest begun by Colin Kaepernick over how police treat African-Americans. Now, the league is going "to scrub this Trump vs. Sports mess until all that's left is a shiny, useless bauble." The media is playing along: Consider that Goodell, not Kaepernick, is on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
President Trump actually did the NFL a favor by picking this fight, writes Ley. Goodell had been under pressure to do something in support of protesting players, but now it's unnecessary. Owners tut-tutted at the president, locked arms with players, and suddenly this became all about some vague notion of league unity. "The worst irony here may be the way the NFL's new marketing initiative not only appropriates the protests, but perverts their meaning," writes Ley. The protest by Kaepernick required people to pick a side on a volatile issue. "Goodell and the owners, in asking everyone to come together around the cause of the NFL itself, have done what they always do, and made what they've touched cheaper and smaller." Click for the full column. (Read more NFL stories.)