Posted on March 6, 2018, by Travis Pulver
On March 14, the craziest 72 hours of the NFL year will take over the media and internet—free agency. The deals will come fast and furious as teams scramble to sign whoever they think can help them win the Super Bowl next season. But if you believe what a couple of agents told the Houston Chronicle, the Texans will be exercising some discretion.
They will not be signing anyone that has been involved in the controversial protests that have been taking place the last two years.
In a recent article, the Houston Chronicle’s Jerome Solomon wrote:
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“I spoke with two NFL agents this week who said word is the Texans aren’t interested in any players who participated in pregame kneel-downs in protest of police brutality.”
The natural reaction for many fans has been to blame team owner Bob McNair. The comments he made last year about the ‘inmates running the asylum’ were quite divisive. But Solomon conceded the decision is not one that has come down from McNair or anywhere else. They just aren’t going to sign any players that have protested.
At least that is what Solomon and whoever the agents are he talked with are trying to say. Of course, another explanation could be that the team simply isn’t interested in any of the players these agents represent. By taking their assumption to the press, these agents could be trying to force the Texans into talks.
No one likes bad press, especially if that bad press is racially motivated.
But what those agents fail to realize, is that plenty of people think teams should be allowed to sign whoever they want. Is it smart business to not sign someone because they protest? If the player is one that could impact the team in a positive way—no, of course not. The purpose of a football team is to win games. It shouldn’t matter if a player is kneeling during the National Anthem if he can help the team win.
The Texans said as much without referencing the protest when they responded to the reports:
“A recent report that suggests the Houston Texans would not sign a player who has protested in support of social justice issues is categorically false and without merit,” Texans spokeswoman Amy Palcic said in a statement. “The Texans ownership, coaching, personnel and executive staff sign and hire employees based on talent, character and fit within our organization.”
Players and employees should be judged on their merits—or talents – first and foremost. But ask any employer and they will say that character and fit are important as well. The obvious question to that would be what’s wrong with exercising a constitutional right to protest?
Nothing, of course. But if a team thinks doing so comes at a detriment to the product placed on the field, they have every right to be concerned about those players. Does that mean the players are not playing as well or are causing problems? Absolutely not, but if the Texans believe that protesting players could cause problems, then they shouldn’t sign them.
But if the team ends up having another lackluster season because they didn’t sign the best available players, they should be ready for those consequences as well.