The Sports Report: What’s going on with the NFL?

The National Football League season is just beginning and there are plenty of hot topics. Will players be fined for kneeling during the national anthem? Will Nike recover from the backlash of using Kaepernick as their new face? Who will win the Super Bowl?

Kneeling

Well, first there’s an issue off the field. NFL players have continued to kneel during the national anthem and it could be a problem for team owners.

The NFL had a policy in place to punish players if they kneeled for the national anthem, but it was abolished in July. The players responded and they didn’t care for the new plan.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has remained quiet on the issue and it’s unclear if the players will be fined for kneeling. Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch has sat during the national anthem and he doesn’t plan to stop. Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, the leader of the movement, has raised his fist during the anthem. Team owners may be calling commissioner Goodell as early as week one.

It’s funny the owners hate the protests, but collected $250-million in extra revenue last season. But, I digress.

Kaepernick and Nike

Another major issue the league is facing is controversial football player Colin Kaepernick teaming up with Nike.

On Sept. 4, Nike released their new “Just Do It” campaign making Kaepernick the face of the brand. Kaepernick is filing a collusion case against the NFL for removing him from the league. The major issue is that all the NFL uniforms are made by Nike. It’s a major contract the NFL doesn’t want to lose.

The initial reaction has been mixed. Fans have burned Nike apparel, but the company’s online sales have increased by 31 per cent. The league should hope that the massive number of fans will stick around for the long run.

New helmet rule

An issue on the field is the new helmet rule. The NFL is now penalizing defenders who lead with their head. They could be assessed a 15-yard penalty, and in some cases removed from the game.

Defensive players have been upset from the start. Offensive players are fast moving humans. They move at 20 to 25 km/h and it’s hard to hit them in the stomach every time.

It’s quite ironic they enforce the new rule when every running back buries his head when he enters a pile. Apparently, the NFL needs a reminder that football is a contact sport. If Tom Brady is hit on a play, it’s fine, the cry-baby will live. If you don’t want to get hit, then go play golf.

This season

On the field, the National Football Conference is loaded with good teams.

The Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings and the defending champion, the Philadelphia Eagles, all have a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl.

In the American Football Conference, New England is the favourite to win, but there are still some other contenders. A team nobody sees coming is the Cincinnati Bengals. The team’s quarterback, Andy Dalton, has struggled in past seasons, but I believe they will win the AFC North. Sorry Steelers fans.

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