NFL “Take a Knee” Controversy: Pick a side and stand on it








The often raucous and divisive debate over NFL players standing or kneeling in silent protest, about what they and many others consider a level of racism that exists in America, has forced everyone to take a side. And in taking that side, you face a distinct challenge that can and often will define your personal and professional brand.

No matter the instance. No matter the discourse. No matter the specific topic. At the end of the day, your image is what you want it to be. You are the ultimate crafting force in how others see you and whether they decide to interact with you.

And when it comes to crafting your brand and what you stand for, understand that you will be assailed by some and applauded by others. The most important and critical decision you must then make are you willing to accept the consequences of your decision?

A number of NFL players, other athletes and even cheerleaders at some of the games have shown their willingness.

Are you will willing to take a stand and defend it no matter what the cost?


Dale Hansen has been a staple in Dallas-Fort Worth sports television for many years, easily the most popular and well-known in the region. Along with delivering the standard scores and highlights, Hansen picks his spot for commentary that might permanently damage the careers of those who don’t have years of experience and high ratings behind them. He has a platform and he uses it judiciously and with pointed opinions. He received a lot of criticism from certain groups and viewers when he openly supported Michael Sam as the first openly-gay player in the NFL.

But he is a man of integrity and passion. He stood by his opinion and would not be swayed by anyone. Some opinions may be unpopular to a select few, but when one has a platform to effect what they consider necessary social change, they need to show courage and conviction.

Hansen showed just that in delivering this commentary about the NFL players, their silent protests prior to games, and the hammering they have taken for being what some consider unpatriotic.


I’ve interviewed Dale Hansen many times over the years and found him to erudite, informed, passionate and considerate of his words. He is not someone who will spit something out just for sake of his ego or to create a furor around him.

Unlike many others in our society today. But, I digress.

Hansen has a solid platform from whence he speaks. As a highly-rated and popular individual in Dallas-Fort Worth, one who makes money for his TV station by keeping them popular, he has less to fear for his job and future than most.

You then have to consider what taking a stand on this or any issue will do to your professional and personal brand.

Consider the ramifications carefully.

In personal conversations, on Facebook, via Twitter or any other form of communication, you proudly, (and hopefully intelligently by being well-informed before going off on a rant), state your opinion. You will likely counter that this is your Constitutionally protected “Freedom of Speech” to say what you want, when you want to say, and fear no repercussion.

That’s not exactly how it works.

Without going too deep into the guts of the issue, you may indeed say what you want but you can and often will be held liable for your words in certain circumstances.

As any good Constitutional lawyer will tell you, freedom of speech means your right to say something is protected within certain limits. You may, and often will, be faced with the consequences of what you say or write. But you still have the right to say them. Conversely, people, and I’m at this moment speaking specifically about employers and potential employers, have the right to judge your words and opinions as they see fit and them make a valued judgement about you.

And whether they want you as part of their organization.

Employers have every right to fire you for what you say. If you need more convincing, read this.


  • You are free to express your opinions in whatever fashion you desire, certainly within the bounds of legal limits and good taste.
  • Your opinions will be shared with others no matter how you seek to protect and hide them. Whether by word of mouth, letters, smoke signals, semaphore or any other form of communication, your opinions are stuck to you with a permanent glue.
  • The greatest example of this is every form of social media. It never dies, and within seconds is copied and passed around the world forever. And you never know where it’s going.
  • Employers have a brand to consider and uphold. They are in it for profit, raising money for charities, to stay in business. Thanks to social media and search engines, if you write it or say it, they will know about it.
  • Employers have the legal right to fire you if your opinions bring disrespect or damage their company and their brand.
  • Your reputation, for better or worse, will be marked by your words and actions. They will either uphold a proud image worthy of taking the chance, or they will bury you forever.
  • Measure your words carefully. Consider the repercussions of your opinionated video. Every single time, just before you write or say something, think it over several times. Stop a moment before hitting “SEND” or “POST”. Think about your personal and professional future. Carefully.
  • Again, remember your image is what you want it to be. You are in control at the core moment. But you are no longer in control once it makes the global rounds.

Be the person you want to be. Stand for the causes you feel strongly about. Never let anyone tell you to be someone you’re not.

But remember that who you are stays with you for a lifetime. So ask yourself a simple question before making any pronouncement or taking any action.

Is it worth it?

Your answer will shape your brand forever.