The NFL made a bad decision on demanding players stand for the National Anthem.
Any private business should be free to set standards for their employees, in most cases they can demand that employees wear certain clothes, act in a certain way, or even stand for the national anthem. I see no problem with that. If the rules are unreasonable, people leave, strike, or object, the quality of the product falls, and the rules change or the business fails. The free market fixes problems quickly.
The NFL, however, doesn’t fit the criteria for a private business.
As they accept subsidies, taxpayer dollars, and benefits unique to them, and therefore fall into an entirely different category.
The NFL is a profit driven business, and despite their claim that they will keep people off the field if they do not stand, it would only take a small number of high profile players (team oriented leaders like Philly’s Wentz and Foles for example) for the public to turn on the NFL quickly, hurting their bottom line. Fans of the NFL will not show up to games if they watch a political fight bench star players, and the result is 22 third string players reaching a 3–0 conclusion.
The NFL is not a government bureau, but they accept a different standard of rules by accepting public funds. Not all of them fall into a problematic category, such as negotiated benefits in property taxes, negotiated utility costs, or other terms. Just being in business with a city or government shouldn't immediately make you waive your rights to run your business. That says nothing about whether a city is being financially responsible to their citizens by agreeing to those terms.
Taxpayer funded stadiums, non-negotiated tax breaks, taxpayer subsidized benefits are all problem areas. They become responsible to a higher level of scrutiny because its not just ticket and concession money, my tax dollars are involved even if I hated football.
If the NFL wants to enforce behavior like standing during the national anthem, directly impacting first amendment rights of their players — they must give up any special treatment. They have a good enough product and high enough revenue to succeed regardless.
Until then, sit back and enjoy the lawsuits as half the league kneels in solidarity during Week One. Maybe add some backup players to your fantasy roster, I’m sure some big names will miss more than a series while this plays out.