08/10/18: NFL Players Resume Protests, Governor's Race, Red Tide & Green Algae Spreads

Aug 10, 2018

As the NFL preseason gets underway, the controversy over players kneeling or raising their fists during the national anthem is back.

Three Miami Dolphins players protested on the sidelines before Thursday night’s game. Four Jacksonville players waited in the tunnel until after the song before going out onto the field.

Meanwhile in politics this week, the two guys hoping to become the Republican candidate for governor went after each other. Plus - why the environmental problems all around the state this summer have been brewing for years.

Protests By NFL Players Resume

It was the question that dogged the NFL all summer. Would players continue social justice protests during the playing of the national anthem? That question was answered loud and clear Thursday night with the first round of preseason games around the country. There were protests at several NFL arenas.

Leading the way were players here in Florida with both the Miami Dolphins, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“As a man I gotta stand for something,” Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said after staying in the locker room during the anthem. “I love my team, I’m dedicated to my teammates and that’s what we’re talking about. I did what I did. It was love. I hope people see and respect it. I respect different views. I love the military. I wore my Salute to Service cleats today. It’s love.”

In Miami, two players took a knee on the sidelines during the anthem while another stayed standing and raised his right fist. In Jacksonville, four players stayed inside the tunnel during the national anthem and entered the field only after the song ended.

Friday morning, President Donald Trump blasted the players’ protests with a couple of tweets demanding that they be suspended without pay. A few months ago, the league updated its rules to obligate players to stand on the field during the national anthem, or remain in the locker room. That policy is on hold after the players union filed a grievance. Over the past two seasons, dozens of players across the league protested during the anthem to raise awareness about social injustice and police brutality against black people.

Andre Fernandez covers the Dolphins for the Miami Herald and joined us to discuss the issue.

Gubernatorial Candidates Go After Each Other As Early Voting Nears

Absentee ballots are in the mail. Early voting begins within days in some Florida counties and primary day is a little more than two weeks away. This week, the two Republican candidates met for their final debate at Jacksonville University.

Current state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam went after his challenger Representative Ron DeSantis for how he has waged his campaign.

“It has felt a lot like I’m running against the Seinfeld candidate. The campaign is being run out of a studio. They have a stammering of celebrity guest appearances. And at the end of the day it’s all about nothing,” said Putnam.

That big celebrity guest appearance for DeSantis was last week when President Trump visited Tampa, drumming up support.

DeSantis fired back in kind, pointing out that Putnam takes money from sugar interests in the state. “Adam is the errand boy for US Sugar. He is going to stand for them time and time….applause fades,” said DeSantis.

The Democrats running for governor held their own town hall Thursday night at Jacksonville University and a couple made their case to Democratic voters that they can take on the eventual GOP candidate.

We focused Friday on the GOP side as we welcomed Rick Mullaney. He is the Founding Director of the Public Policy Institute at Jacksonville University which hosted both events.

Daniel Cronrath, a political science professor at Florida State College Jacksonville, also took part in the discussion.

Summer Of Yuck

A toxic red tide algae bloom that’s been persisting in Southwest Florida for nearly a year is making its way north to the Tampa Bay area. WUSF’s Jessica Meszaros visited Holmes Beach on the Anna Maria Island earlier this week and joined us.

The red tide is just one of the environmental issues fouling up the summer waters in some places making for the Summer of Yuck.

Green algae also has spread across Lake Okeechobee and to the east and west as the water is flushed out to bring the lake level down during storm season. And there have been warnings of algae blooms in north Florida, near the St. Johns River.

Craig Pittman has been reporting on this for the Tampa Bay Times and also took part in a discussion examining Florida’s water woes.