Whether you agree or not with some NFL owners regarding so-called anthem protestors, Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown has painted himself into a corner.
Reports suggest Brown balked at the idea of signing free agent defensive back Eric Reid because of his participation in protests last season.
Now let me say this to begin with, the issue of the so-called anthem protestors is as divisive and hyperbolic as any in which we mingle the worlds of sports and politics into one toxic cocktail.
It is my opinion that any suggestion of a substantial decrease in overall participation by fans of the NFL is a falsehood.
Yes, television ratings have dropped and there are decreases in overall attendance.
There are more than a few reasons for these changes in numbers, which is not to suggest that some negligible numbers of people have turned off the NFL because of the protests.
But to suggest that millions of people turned off games in response to something they don't see on their televisions to begin with is absurd.
People watch games on devices which are not included in the metrics of television ratings. People watch football games on smartphones, tablets and home computers. People watch the NFL Mix Channel and the NFL RedZone Channel, which deflect away from ratings on individual games.
The same numbers of people who once could afford the high prices of attending live games has dropped in recent years as well. People have prioritized their finances differently and have made choices which may have included not being so eager to drop hundreds of dollars on tickets, parking and the essentials needed to attend a live NFL game.
Are there people who turned off the games in their own form of protest? Absolutely. But these numbers are not nearly as high as some would want to suggest.
Getting back to Brown, and his stance regarding the protestors -- and most recently the flap around Reid -- this is quite the corner into which he's neatly tucked himself.
If Reid -- considered by many NFL analysts and experts to be one of the most talented free agent defensive backs on the market -- is considered untouchable by some owners within the NFL merely for expressing himself, then what does that say about the priorities of this particular owner in showing a stance against players charged with domestic violence (current running back Joe Mixon), assault (former defensive back Adam Jones, who played for the team for six years), or substance abuse and weapons violations (former wide receiver Chris Henry)?
The Bengals are the third most prolific team in the NFL in terms of arrested players since the year 2000. They rank only behind the Denver Broncos and the Minnesota Vikings in that category, according to NFLarrest.com.
Overall, the Bengals have had nine assaults, nine DUIs and six domestic violence cases over the past 17 years.
If this owner wants to make a stand against not standing, fine. He's well within his rights as a business owner to demand a certain type of employee.
And apparently, he's made that choice. Over and over again.
And in the case of both Jones (arrested 10 times) and Henry (6 times), we can draw an inference that Brown's priorities can and should be called into question.