One of the more popular players in Pittsburgh Steelers’ history said the workplace is no place for a protest.
Rocky Bleier, a veteran who lost part of his right foot in the Vietnam War, but came back to win four Super Bowls with the Steelers, told Yahoo Sports the protests should never have gotten to this point.
“It’s very simply this: This is a workplace, you are at the stadium, you are working that day, this is not a platform for protest,” said Bleier, age 71. “The American people, they can’t go to their workplace and start to protest about whatever may be happening in their life. That wouldn’t be allowed and that shouldn’t be allowed in the NFL.”
“It’s not a violation of the First Amendment at all. You have off days, you can do it outside of the stadium or on other platforms, but not the gameday platform,” he said. “It’s a very simple question and people are making it more complex than it really is.”
Bleier said the NFL’s problem was due to the lack of leadership from the players’ union, the owners, and the NFL commissioner.
“There was a lack of leadership there on the owners’ side as well as the Players Association long before to nip whatever was coming down the road after the Colin Kaepernick situation a year ago, in the bud,” Bleier said. “It should never have gotten to this point, nobody has stepped up to say ‘No, this is not what we do on gameday.’”
“It was a year ago that Kaepernick took a knee, so if you’re the commissioner or an owner, you have to be proactive in saying this: ‘If it never happens again, fine, but if it does, what is our position?’” Bleier said. “Somewhere along the line I have not seen the leadership maybe I expected from the commissioner and the owners in this situation.”
Bleier said the league has to resolve the issue.
“You can’t allow it to continue to drag on,” Bleier added. “Otherwise, it will be like an open sore that heals and if you peel off the scab again and it will continuously be there.”
Bleier played for Pittsburgh in 1968, and then left to serve in the US military.
He battled to return to playing for the Steelers in 1971, when got back from Vietnam.
The four-time Super Bowl champion played for the Pittsburgh Steelers right up to his retirement in 1980.