Titans DT Jurrell Casey: I'll still protest despite anthem policy, and accept the fine for it

The NFL wanted the national anthem issue to go away, but that’s not going to happen.

The league probably, wrongly, thought that enacting a policy would eliminate the story entirely and they wouldn’t have to think about it or worry about making President Donald Trump mad. Now there’s a new and predictable issue: At least one player is planning to ignore the policy and live with the punishment.

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Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, who raised his fist after the anthem last year as part of players trying to bring attention to social issues, told CNN on Wednesday that he won’t let the policy stop his demonstration. The new policy states that players have to stand for the anthem and “show respect” or stay in the locker room if they want.

Who is Jurrell Casey?

Casey has been a fantastic player over his seven seasons with the Titans. He has made the Pro Bowl three times. He isn’t necessarily a household name because he plays defensive tackle, but he’s sure to get more attention now.

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Tennessee Titans tackle Jurrell Casey
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Tennessee Titans tackle Jurrell Casey
NASHVILLE, TN - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Jurrell Casey of the Tennessee Titans poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 25: Derrick Morgan #90, Jurrell Casey #99 and Shaun Smith #93 of the Tennessee Titans defense wait for the offense of the Denver Broncos at LP Field on September 25, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Broncos 17 - 14. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 27: Jurrell Casey #99 and Derrick Morgan #90 of the Tennessee Titans wave to fans as they leave the field after a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at LP Field on November 27, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans won 23-17. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 20: Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans plays against the San Francisco 49ers at LP Field on October 20, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 6: Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans is introduced before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at LP Field on October 6, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 15: Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates after sacking the quarterback during a game against the Arizona Cardinals at LP Field on December 15, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Cardinals defeated the Titans 37-34. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 12: Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans sacks Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars at LP Field on October 12, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Jaguars 16-14. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 14: Derrick Morgan #91 and Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates after a big play in the first quarter of a game against the New York Jets at LP Field on December 14, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Jets defeated the Titans 16-11. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 6: Avery Williamson #54 and Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans celebrate during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the game at Nissan Stadium on December 6, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 20: Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans comes down the tunnel before a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Nissan Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Panthers defeated the Titans 26-16. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
January 3, 2016: Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey (99) during the NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 27: Ted Larsen #62 of the Chicago Bears blocks Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans in the second quarter at Soldier Field on November 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 1: Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans looks to the sidelines during a game against the Houston Texans at Nissan Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Texans 24-17. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 20: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts is tackled by Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans in the first quarter of the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 22, 2017: Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans walks off the field prior to a game on October 22, 2017 against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Tennessee won 12-9 in overtime. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 22, 2017: Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans engages left guard Joel Bitonio #75 and running back Duke Johnson Jr. #29 of the Cleveland Browns in the fourth quarter of a game on October 22, 2017 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Tennessee won 12-9 in overtime. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 06: Tennessee Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey (99) late in the fourth quarter of the AFC Wild Card game between the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs on January 6, 2018 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. The Titans came back from a 21-3 deficit at halftime to win 22-21. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 10: Defensive end Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans on the bench during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Titans 12-7. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 31: Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans is blocked by Brandon Linder #65 of the Jacksonville Jaguars at Nissan Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Jaguars 15-10. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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“I’m going to take my fine,” Casey told CNN at a promotional event in London, via The Tennessean. “It is what it is, I ain’t going to let them stop me from doing what I want to do. If they want to have these battles between players and organizations, this is the way it’s going to be.”

If he does, it opens up a new chapter of drama for the NFL, which wanted this issue to go away.

How would the NFL react?

The NFL will face a dilemma if Casey and others continue their demonstrations. The policy says players must “show respect” for the American flag and the anthem. Will a raised fist be a violation? What if it happens right after the anthem?

If Casey, or some other players, raise a fist and get fined, that will be a big story. If they raise a fist and aren’t fined, that’s a story. Those who stay in the locker room will be a story. Again, the NFL would have been better off just leaving the issue alone and letting those who are offended by a few players raising awareness for social issues to be offended. It wasn’t worth the league’s time or effort to try and make everyone happy.

The NFL can’t seem to stay out of its own way, and somehow it turned the anthem issue into a story that overshadows football for the third straight season. Well done.

A new issue for the league

Casey didn’t kneel for the anthem. He raised a fist after the anthem because he “wanted to be respectful,” The Tennessean said. If Casey is the only player, or one of a few, still demonstrating during or after the anthem, he’s going to be under a lot of fire. 

The NFLPA didn’t like the policy and filed a grievance over it. The NFL, which wasn’t forward thinking enough to realize that this policy would ignite the entire story, surely doesn’t want to redo the policy and might have to punish players who aren’t following its policy. Bringing attention to social issues is important for many players, something the tone-deaf NFL didn’t seem to recognize.

Long story short, we might be looking at a year of anthem talk and controversy. Again.

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Frank Schwabis a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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