Yesterday, I was crushed when some of my beloved New England Patriots chose to hop aboard, or kneel aboard, that national flag and anthem disrespecting train. Whatever your political beliefs, supporting–hell, some management joining in–such a protest by employees, at work, when you know you are insulting millions of your customers, while disrespectful, also seems like lunacy.
Watching on TV the crowd at Gillette Stadium, I was proud when I heard a full-throated chorus of boos replace the usual cheers, following our national anthem. Some teams, like the Seattle Seahawks (another team that is currently testing my affections) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (with the exception of former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva–I just bought his jersey) chose to disrespect the flag and anthem as entire teams. What are those athletes who disagree with the protests (you know they exist) made of that they could apparently compromise their beliefs in such a way? If they did it for “team unity,” well, there teammates and bosses certainly didn’t care about their desire to conduct business as usual and partake in this great, traditional American sports spectacle.
I actually give more credit to those who knelt during the anthem due to their sincere, if misguided, convictions over those players who surrendered their integrity to other people’s political views. Disrespect our national anthem and flag because you feel our president said something stupid? Hell, I wouldn’t have stood a single time over the previous eight seasons, if I’d adopted the same parameters. I understand our flag and the national anthem have very little to do with any current occupant of the White House. The flag and anthem represent all of us and our history–flaws and all–who continue to work to create a more perfect union.
Think about it: according to the protesters’ logic, since there will always be injustice to some degree–real and fabricated, can they ever stand again for the anthem or flag? Because our nation will NEVER be perfect–that’s why our founders wrote “more perfect”–that’s the most we can strive for.
Today, various folks around the NFL tried to float the narrative that the mass protest was a “unifying” act by NFL players. Are you kidding me? They talked about the president and those of us troubled by the protests as the ones being divisive. Hey, the NFL started it all by letting Kaepernick get away with it in the first place. Of course he has a right to free speech, but what has that got to do with speech at a private company where he works? The 49ers and the NFL allowed this political protest while disallowing the Dallas Cowboys their “right” to a solemn demonstration (in this case, respectful). They wished to honor the five police officers slaughtered while protecting a Black Lives Matter demonstration.
This final observation is admittedly anecdotal, but it makes me wonder if the NFL is committing suicide. This morning, my wife and I went for a walk at Green Lake, one of Seattle’s most popular walking paths. During our approximately one-hour walk, we saw only 1 person wearing Seahawks gear, an old, faded baseball cap. We saw no other people wearing Hawk’s gear when we normally see at least a dozen and often many more, especially during the season. Granted, today follows a tough loss, but seeing only one Seahawks hat shocked us in this formally Hawks-rabid city.
The NFL should also take note that we did not see any other NFL teams represented among any of the Green Lake walkers, runners, and cyclists, INCLUDING US!