NFL ‘dropped the ball’ on national anthem policy, says Panthers’ Torrey Smith

Torrey Smith says the NFL has “dropped the ball” on its new policy that forbids players from sitting or taking a knee on the field during the national anthem.

NFL owners approved the policy last week that requires players to stand for the national anthem when they are on the field and announced any violations of the policy would result in fines against the team.

However Smith, acquired by Carolina in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, feels the ruling has created a “false narrative” surrounding the message Colin Kaepernick was trying to convey when he originally knelt during the anthem in 2016.

“I think when you see a reactive policy – and when I say that I mean something that’s done in response to what guys have done in the past – I always think that’s a problem, especially when the message has been changed.

“Guys aren’t against the military. [Kaepernick] originally started it against police brutality. It was never against the military, it was never about the military, but that narrative changed.”

Speaking following Carolina’s first practice since the policy was announced last week at the NFL owners meetings, Smith went on to say he was “disappointed but not surprised because, at the end of the day, the league is all about money, it’s a business.”

“But to try to silence guys when they’re trying to do the right thing for our country, I mean, I really don’t know what to say about it,” he added.

Smith is worried the policy, rather than helping, could cause further problem as players find other ways to protest.

He said: “I think it could stir things up, which is the problem because you’re stirring things up because you’ve been told to be quiet.”

“It could’ve been done together to figure out what we can do to move forward and what would be best for the players.

“The whole reason guys were protesting was to draw awareness to something. To take that away and be, ‘Hey, don’t do that anymore,’ like you’re anti-American or something like people try to paint – it is very frustrating to continue to see that false narrative.”

“You’re going to see reactive things from guys, probably. I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not.

“But if you do see it, it takes away even further from what the message was, which was against police brutality, which evolved to the criminal justice system and a lot of other inequalities that we have in this country.

“So it’s frustrating to see that the NFL had the opportunity to kind of right the wrongs and change the narrative that’s best for everyone – people who are offended by protests and a league that’s 70% African-American that understands and lived a lot of these problems that guys are protesting about. So dropped the ball there, but we’ll see where it goes.”