Patriots

NFL teams being on the field for anthem is a relatively new practice

NFL teams being on the field for anthem is a relatively new practice

It’s a tribute to the NFL’s ability to drape itself in the flag that nobody even realizes that – prior to 2009 – players being on the field for the national anthem wasn’t even standard practice.

Regardless of where one stands RE: Colin Kaepernick deciding to sit out the “Star-Spangled Banner” one shouldn’t be misled into thinking this is a longstanding tradition Kaepernick is sitting out.

(For the record, I believe it’s his right to sit, stand or turn cartwheels, but the point he wanted to make about the oppression of blacks has now been hijacked and we’re in a loud debate about whether or not players have a right to express themselves).

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed this morning the practice began in 2009, adding, "As you know, the NFL has a long tradition of patriotism. Players are encouraged but not required to stand for the anthem.

Not that there aren’t those in the league who won’t try to have you believe that Kaepernick is bucking decades of tradition.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher spoke in terms that made it seem like his teams have been customarily standing for the anthem before games for a long time rather than it being just for the past seven seasons.

“I would be very, very surprised if I had one of our players do that, particularly because of the respect that we have shown, not only this year, but since our time in St. Louis and my time going way back for the national anthem,” Fisher said.

Fisher’s been in the NFL as a player and coach for 35 years. And – while it’s not only possible but likely that teams he’s been involved with have paid their respects during the anthem whether they were on display on the sidelines or not – the phrase “going way back” in this context infers a longer standing ceremonial approach to the anthem than really exists.

Players have been on the sidelines for then anthem prior to select games – Super Bowls, post 9/11 tributes, etc. and perhaps teams such as Fisher’s Rams, Titans, Oilers and Bears had their own customs that included routinely being on the field for the anthem. But it’s worth whispering into the hysteria that, “Hey, standing en masse just started seven years ago.”

Fisher also said, “We have an organizational philosophy that has been in place for a long time, with respect to the anthem. I think it’s a special event and it’s something that should be respected and that’s my opinion.”

I share that opinion. I don’t, however, share the opinion that seven seasons is a long time.

 

 

 

 

NFL Rumors: Patriots release wide receiver Maurice Harris

NFL Rumors: Patriots release wide receiver Maurice Harris

Once Josh Gordon returned to the Patriots and was made eligible for Week 1 against the Steelers, someone on the depth chart at wide receiver had to go. It appears Maurice Harris is that player. 

According to Field Yates, the Patriots have released Harris. The 26-year-old was a bright spot in training camp as he developed some chemistry with Tom Brady and looked good in the team's first preseason game against the Lions, catching three passes for 27 yards and a touchdown. 

Unfortunately for Harris, he got hurt in joint practices with the Titans, causing him to miss the last two preseason contests. As a player on the bubble, it's a harsh reality when injuries take away the chance at a roster spot. 

The Patriots are plenty deep at wide receiver, as Phil Perry notes in his latest 53-man roster projection, and look primed to supplement the loss of Rob Gronkowski with a number of outside threats and versatile running backs. 

The Pats will wrap up their season Thursday against the Giants before beginning their sixth Super Bowl championship defense. 

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NFL Rumors: Patriots work out former Washington State running back James Williams

NFL Rumors: Patriots work out former Washington State running back James Williams

The Patriots brought in former Washington State running back James Williams for a workout Sunday, according to Doug Kyed.

Williams, a 5'9, 197-pound back who excelled in both the run and passing attack at Washington State, went undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft. In three years with the Cougars, Williams racked up nearly 3,000 scrimmage yards and 27 touchdowns. 

In 2018, he ran for 560 yards (4.6 YPC) for 12 touchdowns and caught 83 passes for 613 yards and four scores. The Patriots met with Williams during the draft process as well. 

The Patriots' backfield is pretty crowded at the moment with at least three players who should factor heavily into the team's offensive scheme. With Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead and Brandon Bolden on the roster, bringing Williams on would likely result in one of their releases. 

Michel, White and Harris are basically locks to make the team, while Bolden will likely make the final 53 because of his contributions on special teams. Perhaps Burkhead, who's struggled with injuries during his Patriots tenure and only logged seven snaps in New England's third preseason game against Carolina, could be at risk of getting cut. 

The Patriots could also reserve a spot on their practice squad for Williams to let him develop, but that's still a lot of running backs to carry.

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