EAST RUTHERFORD — Jonathan Casillas, a journeyman linebacker on a defense full of stars, has shown this week why he has been voted a Giants captain for the past two seasons. Casillas has eloquently navigated the emotionally-charged minefield of NFL national anthem protests, providing thoughtful responses and refreshing candor.
Casillas, a ninth-year veteran who has always stood for the anthem, expressed empathy for those who have knelt in protest of racial inequality, while also demonstrating an understanding of those upset by a perceived disrespect of the American flag and all it symbolizes.
Casillas has been at the forefront of figuring out what comes next for the league after the widespread protests last week in response to comments made by President Donald Trump were met with disgust from a vocal segment of the fan base. And Casillas isn’t naive about the reason this controversial topic has become such a hot-button issue for the NFL and owners.
“At the end of the day, if we’re talking about losing money, we’re talking about losing fans,” Casillas said. “Nobody likes losing money, especially not any of these owners.”
Casillas was among two dozen players, owners and league executives, including commissioner Roger Goodell, to meet at NFL headquarters in Manhattan on Tuesday night for a two-hour discussion about how to proceed.
The Giants stood and linked arms while the anthem was played before last Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the Eagles, but three players – defensive tackle Damon Harrison, defensive end Olivier Vernon and safety Landon Collins – knelt in protest. Casillas said that Giants co-owner John Mara, who also attended Tuesday’s league round table, told a group of team leaders in a meeting on Wednesday that he wants players to stand for the anthem, but he supports those who are compelled to kneel.
Harrison, Vernon and Collins haven’t indicated their plans for the anthem for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers, and a…