Seemingly everyone has an opinion about NFL players protesting during the national anthem. While it’s fair to question the motives and merits of each side, one thing is certain: The protests are a distraction, at least to some degree.
Given the discussion devoted to this topic, how much have these protests affected teams?
“Well, it’s got to affect it some,” Seahawks radio analyst Warren Moon said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I’ve never been through anything like this where it’s such a strong subject going on in the National Football League. I’ve been involved in strikes and different things like that, but this is a very, very touchy subject because it hits people so many different ways, whether you’ve been in the police force, whether you’ve had family members that have died – all these different things that go through people’s mind on why the players are protesting. I think the main reason they’re protesting gets lost in all of that.
“So I never thought it was a good decision by Colin Kaepernick to do it during the national anthem,” Moon continued, “but that’s his freedom to do that and he did it and guys are supporting that. But yeah, it’s got to be a distraction because you’re asked about it constantly now. It’s a hot-button subject around the league. You’re asked your opinion about it, there’s meetings being devoted to it as far as your football team is concerned – those meetings would normally be devoted to getting ready for a game. Now you’re talking about what are you going to do before the game (and) how does the team feel about it. So it’s got to be a distraction mentally for guys.”
Many teams and players, however, have not let the distraction impact their performance on the field.
“One thing about football players they can do is they can compartmentalize and once the get inside those white lines on the football field, they kind of block everything out and become focused,” Moon said. “But I think it can take away a little bit from your preparation just because of the amount of time you’re spending on that subject.”