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And so the NFL circus continues with the trade deadline generating more trades than usual, as well as the continuing saga of the Ezekiel Elliot suspension. More important though is the swirl of stories that continue to surround the ongoing player protests.

Such is the tumult that there are now questions beginning to be asked about whether Rodger Goodell will keep his job. It is hard as an outsider to speculate, but the fact that there was a conference call of seventeen team owners hosted by Jerry Jones to discuss Goodell’s contract extension seems to indicate that there is absolute support.

The curious thing about this to me is that whilst I have many criticisms of the way Goodell has approached his tenure as commissioner, the handling of the player protests is not one of them. It seems as if there is a section of owners who want the problem to go away as it causing them financial problems and they are concerned that Goodell has failed to solve the problem. The difference with this one compared to the other problems Goodell has created is that this one is apparently touching the bottom line.

However, I’m not sure that this is one is solvable. The number of players protesting during the anthem was relatively small until President Trump decided to raise it in a speech. There was plenty of work going on behind the scenes, but Trump’s decision to make it a focus and the Vice President’s stunt of leaving the game fanned the flames and for many successfully framed this as matter of patriotism and respect for the armed forces rather than a discussion about social inequality.

The problem is that there are a wide group of players with different reasons for protesting, and whilst I find it positive that discussions between the league and players are occurring, there is no unified force and so it may be hard to get everyone to stand in return of programs being discussed. However, any attempt to force the players to stand is only going to inflame the situation.

I don’t have any sources or a transcript so I can’t know the context of the Houston Texans’ owner Bob McNair when he said, “we can’t have the inmates running the prison” which he has apologised for and said was never meant literally. It has been suggested it was in reference to the leagues office rather than players and league employee Troy Vincent sought an apology at the time. What did happen was that around forty of the Texans knelt during the anthem at the weekend and a number of people have commented that this has revealed McNair’s true feelings.

Given the complexities involved, and how difficult it will be to solve, I’m not entirely sure what some of the owners are expecting – for once they are facing a problem that can’t be solved by throwing more money at it. This is a group of powerful individuals used to getting their own way but perhaps they are going to find there are limits after all.

There is no good way to segue way from such weighty topics to a picks competition, so here is our overall record and picks for tonight.

Gee:      Week 8   6-7                       Overall   66-54
Dan:      Week 8   9-4                       Overall   62-58

Bills @ Jets (+2.5)

The Buffalo Bills travel to face the New York Jets, and this should be a competitive game. The Jets have played tough all year, but are welcoming a Bills team who have found their own formula under new head coach Sean McDermott and are coming off an impressive win against the Raiders. However, the Bills have only won one game on the road so far this season and in a divisional game they might find the going tough. However, I think they are the better team and so whilst I am tempted by the points given to a home team on a Thursday night, I’m going to back the Bills to win this one.

Gee’s Pick:          Bills
Dan’s Pick:          Bills