After tearing up several times over the last 24 hours, I decided to replace today’s blog post with this one on America and Football. When I first started this, I didn’t expect to show a bias. So I will try to stay true to that approach, but not sure I can.
If you haven’t heard, the POTUS said that football players should stand during the playing of the National Anthem or be fired. The Football players, owners and NFL organization said that the players have a right to express themselves.
Both are true, the First Amendment applies to all Americans. But you know what my mom and dad told me? There is a time and place for everything.
They also told me you can say anything you want to anyone you want, but chose your words and times wisely. So you are heard. I wonder if this is the case in this situation.
First, the hero of this whole thing … Alejandro Villanueva of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The message he quietly portrayed was … this is my country, those that serve are my brothers and sisters, and that flag represents freedom not oppression. I will not disrespect my country and service to conform.
And you know what? Sales of his jersey went through the roof today. Beating Tom Brady sales.
The other heroes are:
- The American public who said, “My freedom of speech allows me to say ‘You are spoiled, misguided millionaires; and I will boycott your games and further lower your ratings and advertising dollars. That will decrease your salaries.’”
- The Patriot’s fans who loudly sang the Anthem and booed the players for their behavior.
- Matt Lauer, from the NBC Today Show, who got the former coach and player Tony Dungy to oddly admit that bad behavior in the end zone is less offensive than not standing for the Anthem.
One of the most notable villains are the Pittsburgh Steelers who stayed in their locker room on Veteran’s Appreciation Day. You just can’t make this stuff up. Where was their PR person?
The collection of villains in this debacle are the National Football League Administration, the owners and the players who stood in solidarity or knelt in contempt.
Why? Because their actions were off the mark.
- They are the NATIONAL Football League. Not the oppressed football league.
- These men are at work. None of us can silently politically protest at work. On our own time and on public property, we can do it; no questions asked.
- Since Colin Kaepernick took his knee, nothing has changed for the people he spoke out for. They don’t have more jobs or safer neighborhoods. The NFL hasn’t put together a comprehensive, unified plan to get out to areas that are in need and fix problems.
- A key point … the NFL doesn’t know their target market. NASCAR sure does. Their owners said, “You stand for the National Anthem or you’re fired.” Boom!
- I live in New England. You know what Pat’s tickets in the nose bleed sections go for … over $300. In the lower sections, they can go to double digit thousands.
- .People are rabid fans. They sacrifice a month’s pay for that time to see and worship the game and its players.
- Football has no racial bias. If you’re a good player and appear to be a decent guy, fans will love you.
Some of the people who love the NFL players most … Our men/women in uniform who make on average $35K to $40K a year. Far less than NFL players.
- If they get an opportunity to watch a game from overseas, they are thrilled for that escape and moments of normalcy after putting their lives on the line for months and years at a time.
- On the other side, the average NFL player makes $1.9 million (per the Gazette Review). How oppressed are they? Are they given millions of their income to charities?
- And I know this firsthand. I worked for three companies that sponsored professional sporting teams. Part of the contracts included charity work.
- That meant have a key or not so key player(s) (based on your sponsorship level) show up at a fundraiser. Not give the league, team or player’s own money. In fairness, some did, but in proportion to their salaries a mere pittance.
- What they do is … Just show up. Shake a few hands. Take a few pictures. Give people a quick thrill. Stay for 20 min to an hour and the obligation is met.
- Really?! Teams go to another country and take a knee, but stand for the other country’s anthem and not their own? That’s politicizing the game.
- Can making your agenda a priority be the right thing to do?
- Is making our Country look bad internationally a good idea?
- Aren’t the players and teams supposed to be there as goodwill ambassadors trying to gain interest in the sport? Somehow, I’m missing the goodwill part.
- Another thing that happened Sunday, is a player pretended to urinate like a dog after a touchdown. He was fined $28K.
- If I understand this, the NFL recognizes that as poor behavior and outside league rules (not freedom of expression). However, not standing for the National Anthem is ok. I don’t get that at all.
- Many NFL players have had run ins with the law that are abusive and deadly. Their behavior is ok and they deserve a platform?
Remember when Tim Tebow took a knee to pray? Players and the league were outraged. However, taking knee in protest for something they only know about at a cursory level, that’s ok?
- Social Media has been crazed with opinions on this today. I easily saw more than 100 pro-Anthem posts and videos.
- Only one video was pro-athletes. It was posted by a former athlete …Van Johnson. The posts below it were explosive. He had no support whatsoever.
- The only positive thing that people wrote was they respected his freedom of speech.
- Finally, in most instances, the people who sing the Anthem have an affliction they deal with, an accomplishment they completed, or a talent that is givien the rare recognition of their talent to a broad audience. Don’t they deserve some respect?
I honestly don’t know how the NFL can reverse this. Perhaps our post picture can say far more than words.
The picture on this article could be posed or real, but if it is real. Can an NFL player, owner or administrator face that child and say, “your dad’s (or mom’s) life doesn’t matter?” I sure hope not.
All I have left to say is … Madonna!