All signs indicate that the national anthem protests across the NFL will subside this week. But the actions last weekend angered fans and will leave a bad taste in many mouths for years to come. One positive result, however, has been the newfound attention of many Americans to a league that chose to handle the national anthem in a professional and patriotic manner.
The Legends Football League, rebranded from the Lingerie Football League a few years ago, won wide praise this week when it announced its players would stand and honor the flag during the national anthem.
The LFL deserves more attention than it gets, so I reached out to 2016 league MVP Jade Randle, who this year led the Seattle Mist during an undefeated championship season.
Randle, who plays wide receiver when the Mist are on offense and strong safety on defense, doesn't want to criticize NFL players who chose to kneel during the anthem, saying that she doesn't think the intent for most is to disrespect the flag or our military.
"I've read up on the reasonings that a lot of these NFL players are kneeling and I don't believe it is to disrespect the flag or disrespect our military," she said. "It started as a non-violent protest to bring awareness to issues that black citizens have to deal with."
She, however, will always stand.
"I personally will always stand, put my hand over my heart, and sing along when the national anthem is played," she told me.
Randle isn't boycotting the NFL either—in fact, she gave me her picks for all 15 of this weekend's games.
So, here are her picks, along with more of her thoughts on the anthem, some of her greatest plays, and, much less importantly, my picks.
New Orleans Saints AT Miami Dolphins (in London)
Jade's pick: Saints -3
My pick: Dolphins +3
"My grandfathers were both in the military, my brother was in the military, my sister-in-law's family was in the military, we even have our very own Katie Whelan on our team in the military," she said. "The flag was draped over my grandfather's casket when we laid him to rest."
Buffalo Bills AT Atlanta Falcons
Jade's pick: Falcons -8
My pick: Falcons -8
"To me the flag symbolizes all of those that have fought for our freedom and those that made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could have all of the rights we enjoy. The flag and the anthem may mean something different to me than others and that's ok. I love this country and all of the different people that help make it, but it breaks my heart when I see the division that seems to be growing."
Cincinnati Bengals AT Cleveland Browns
Jade's pick: Bengals -3
My pick: Browns +3
Now to Randle as a football player. She's good, as you can tell in the above video of her catching this bomb and then putting the defender head first into the wall on her way to the end zone.
Detroit Lions AT Minnesota Vikings
Jade's pick: Lions +1
My pick: Vikings -1
Actually, she's very good.
L.A. Rams AT Dallas Cowboys
Jade's pick: Cowboys -6.5
My pick: Cowboys -6.5
Randle lives in Dallas, and says she "gotta pick my boys every time." She lives with three of her Mist teammates who fly up to Seattle twice a month for practices.
"The women in this league put so much time into this game and we sacrifice so much to play," she said. "I don't think people understand how dedicated these athletes are and how much goes on behind the scenes for us to step onto the field."
LFL players aren't paid by the league. "We play because we love it."
Carolina Panthers AT New England Patriots
Jade's pick: Patriots -9
My pick: Patriots -9
She was pretty good for Dallas, where she was a team captain and won the MVP.
Jacksonville Jaguars AT New York Jets
Jade's pick: Jaguars -3.5
My pick: Jets +3.5
She absolutely crushed people on Dallas.
Pittsburgh Steelers AT Baltimore Ravens
Jade's pick: Ravens +3
My pick: Ravens +3
I'd say green is definitely my color… It's official! Just signed my contract to play for Seattle Mist for the 2017 season and I've got a few Dallas Desire girls joining me @mini_angel_7lfl @nik_peterson @daniellehawkins7 It's been hard keeping this a secret for a few months and we are so ready to get after it this year #nomoreblues #dallasdoesseattle Shout out to @bridgeybee88 for the edit!
She and three of her Dallas teammates went to Seattle for the 2017 season.
Tennessee Titans AT Houston Texans
Jade's pick: Titans -1.5
My pick: Texans +1.5
She still crushes people, as you can see in the above highlight tape.
San Francisco 49ers AT Arizona Cardinals
Jade's pick: Cardinals -7
My pick: 49ers +7
Here she is forcing a turnover that the Mist turned into a touchdown. The score was 62-0. In the second quarter.
Philadelphia Eagles AT L.A. Chargers
Jade's pick: Eagles +1.5
My pick: Eagles +1.5
This quarterback fumbled after getting destroyed by Jade.
New York Giants AT Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jade's pick: Bucs -3
My pick: Bucs -3
Here's another touchdown by Jade. Unlike the NFL, you're still allowed to have fun in the LFL.
Here's the Mist making it rain.
Oakland Raiders AT Denver Broncos
Jade's pick: Broncos -2.5
My pick: Broncos -2.5
The whole team has fun, which is easy to do when you're winning championships.
Indianapolis Colts AT Seattle Seahawks
Jade's pick: Seahawks -13
My pick: Colts +13
Jade is all football all the time. And all America all the time.
Washington Redskins AT Kansas City Chiefs
Jade's pick: Chiefs -7
My pick: Chiefs -7
Honestly I am rooting for Jade to beat me, because she could probably wipe the floor with me if she doesn't.
Root for Jade.