This isn’t your typical high school football coaching gig. Rood started the Von Steuben program from scratch three years ago. For the first 87 years of its existence, Von Steuben, a magnet school on Chicago’s Northwest Side, did not have a football program. Within Chicago Public Schools, basketball is king, and declining football participation and limited resources make it much more common to see news of a football program shuttering rather than starting up.
“Love the way you guys continue to compete from first snap to last snap!” he barked, all eyes on him. “Great win! Three-and-one—we accomplished our goal of finishing the first quarter that way. Enjoy it! Love you guys. Love where we’re going.” Then he handed out game balls to kicker Greg Zuerlein (seven of seven on field goal attempts) and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (for beating the team he used to head-coach) … and told Phillips to break the team down, and then snuck out of the way so Phillips could be the center of attention for a few moments.
“We’d listen if it meant further strengthening the franchise in Jacksonville,” Khan says. For now, the Jaguars are only committed to playing one game a year here, for three more years, through the 2020 season.
Goodell doesn’t have the kind of political capital with the players, or the players union, to call in any favors to get a deal done that will compel every player in the league either to stand for the national anthem or to not protest while it’s being played.
It’s a fractious issue with both owners and players. Usually, Goodell can get the owners at least mostly on the same page. Not this time. You’ve got Niners CEO Jed York telling players he won’t force them to stand, Chargers owner Dean Spanos telling players he’s got their backs, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones saying if players don’t stand for the anthem they won’t play for Dallas.