An NFL star thinks we're asking the wrong question about the league's new anthem rule.

Ahead of the 2018 season, the NFL announced a new rule designed to put a stop to silent protests during the national anthem.

Seemingly designed as a compromise — even if it's not — meant to quash the tradition started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016, the new rule states that players can choose not to be on the field during the anthem (this was the norm until 2009, when the league mandated that players be on the sidelines during the anthem), adding that players who are on the field must "stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem."


The new rule sparked outcry, with some accusing the NFL of corporate censorship in an effort to shut down protest and others (including Donald Trump) saying the league didn't go far enough.

Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images.

The NFL Players' Association (NFLPA) released a statement expressing disappointment that the league didn't consult them before implementing this new rule. On the other hand, President Trump said that while he agrees with the new rule, "maybe [players who stay in the locker rooms] shouldn't be in the country."

One of the most thoughtful responses to the new rule came from Chicago Bears linebacker Sam Acho, who pledged to keep fighting for what's right.

Sam Acho. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

"Obviously, from the beginning, no one's intent, and no one's purpose, was to disrespect the flag," Acho said in a statement first reported by NBC 5 Chicago's Mike Berman.

Acho went on to note that the purpose of the protests have always been to take a stand against the police brutality facing people of color, recommitting himself to finding "a way to stand up for people who are being unjustly treated, find a way to stick up for justice in whatever way, shape, or form you can possibly do it."

When it comes to the question of whether he's OK with the new rule, he proposed a different question for himself and other players: "What do you do now?"

"Obviously, the protests have brought a ton of awareness to the abuses of power that are going on in our country, and I think that was a great method to start our conversation. And now ... we're seeing action," he wrote, noting that he, his teammates, and many others in the NFL are putting time and money towards off-field activism work.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

It's been nearly two years since Kaepernick took a knee, and we're still talking.

"I think a lot of players are happy about the conversations that are happening. So the protests served their purpose," Acho concluded:

"And if guys still want to protest, obviously the ruling is if you don't want to stand for the anthem, according to the owners, you can stay inside. ... I will say we continue to do what we're doing and speak up for those who can't speak for themselves."

It's easy to ignore the underlying issue being protested, to smear players as spoiled, and to argue that they should do more off the field if they actually care about these issues.

The truth is that, as Acho and the NFLPA have said, players do do a lot of work off the field to help their communities and to fight for causes they believe in.

Kaepernick donated a million dollars to charity and traveled across the U.S. helping people out. Veterans around the country have come out in support of the expression of free speech shown in these pre-game protests, even if they don't necessarily agree with the cause or the method.

As Acho said, though, the new rule is what it is. The real question is how NFL players — and the rest of us — can help continue this conversation and work for a better world.

After all, there's nothing more patriotic than working to make your country a place where we are all truly equal.

Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images.

More

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

Someday, future Americans will look back on this era of school shootings in bafflement and disbelief—not only over the fact that it happened, but over how long it took us to enact significant legislation to try to stop it.

Five people die from vaping, and the government talks about banning vaping devices. Hundreds of American children have been shot to death in their classrooms, sometimes a dozen or so at a time, and the government has done practically nothing. It's unconscionable.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
via Hollie Bellew-Shaw / Facebook

For those of us who are not on the spectrum, it can be hard to perceive the world through the senses of someone with autism.

"You could think of a person with autism as having an imbalanced set of senses," Stephen Shore, assistant professor in the School of Education at Adelphi University, told Web MD.

"Some senses may be turned up too high and some turned down too low. As a result, the data that comes in tends to be distorted, and it's very hard to perceive a person's environment accurately," Shore continued.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign, is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

truth
True