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NFL Champion Eagles fire first shot in what might be a protracted conflict

The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles might have set the tone for what’s ahead this season by refusing to toe Washington’s political line.

NFL: Super Bowl LII-Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If you were wondering how the NFL’s recent decision on game-day observances of the national anthem might pan out, it didn’t take very long to get your answer.

President Trump has canceled the traditional White House visit by the NFL champs, which was to have taken place on Tuesday. The President said he canceled the visit because the Philadelphia Eagles disagreed with his position (and the league’s new policy) compelling players either to stand for the anthem or remain out of sight. Although the Eagles did offer to send a smaller group to Washington, Trump declined. As of this writing, the Eagles organization has issued only a general statement of appreciation for fans' support, but has made no direct response to the President’s announcement.

So there you have it, football fans — the battle lines on this issue have never been drawn as sharply as they are now. You can practically hear the sound of heads banging against the walls in the PR department over at NFL headquarters. Just as the paying customers had begun building their excitement for the start of another season of pro football, a major spat erupts between the nation’s chief executive and the team that most recently showcased everything the league is selling in Super Bowl 52. It’s the ultimate marketing nightmare.

At the very least, this development appears to lend credence to the theory shared by many that the league’s recent action might unnecessarily escalate a situation which likely would have blown over by itself. Well, it’s too late to close the barn door now; that horse is already running wild and free. But before chairs begin flying across the room and tables are overturned, it might help to realize that nobody who loves pro football ever wanted their favorite autumn pastime to be sucked into our ongoing, political maelstrom. But regardless of one’s voting preferences or their position on the anthem issue, this development truly sucks for everyone who enjoys the blessed respite from politics and other worldly concerns we expect when we tune-in to watch our favorite NFL teams.

Typically, in situations like this, fans are inclined to weigh into the debate over who's responsible for the mess and who ought to be on the receiving end of our torches and pitchforks. With the ink scarcely dry on the league’s new policy regarding anthem protests, is the NFL now prepared to impose official sanctions on the defending Super Bowl champs — whose team mascot and hometown represent the very symbols of American liberty? It’s difficult to imagine how any prelude to the NFL’s 2018 season possibly could be more screwed up than this one suddenly has become.

Since this already represents such a huge “cluster” in its own right, there’s hardly any need for one more ink-stained wretch to leap into the scrum. So, without further comment, I’ll simply settle back (preferably with some hot buttered popcorn) and watch the BTSC faithful work your special brand of magic in the comment threads.