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Month: October 2017

Open letter to NFL players who #TakeAKnee

The national anthem isn't the only -- nor is it necessarily the best -- time for athletes to protest.
The national anthem isn’t the only — nor is it necessarily the best — time for athletes to protest.

To Whom It May Concern:

I hear you. We all hear you. You’ve made your plight known to the masses. You’ve reached prime time audiences and have been featured on cable news networks. Your cries of injustice have not gone unheard.

But you’ve got to stop living in the Land of Make Believe; you know, that sprawling metropolis smack dab in the middle of the cities of Denial and Defiance, just across the river from the towns of Hypocrisy and Ignorance.

I could go on for hours about why your complaints are misguided, why your judgment is clouded, and why your protests are hypocritical, but I’ll sum it up briefly and spare you details, because that’s not ultimately what my post is about.

To sum it up, you are using a First Amendment right to protest against a country whose Constitution gave you that right in the first place.

…what? If that’s not the definition of hypocrisy, I don’t know what is.

Those of you, and your ardent supporters, will argue until you’re red, white and blue in the face, claiming that your protests are not about the United States flag or the country itself, but about racial injustice and corrupt police officers.

It sounds nice, but that’s not what Colin Kaepernick — you know, the below-average quarterback-turned-Gandhi — said after his first protest in 2016. If you’ve forgotten his words, allow me to remind you:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, circa 2016

I see the word “oppress” in there, but I also see someone saying he’s not going to show pride in his country — and a lack of pride “in” is a disrespect “for” the country.

Some of you other players are claiming the opposite of your trailblazer. You’re saying that you have plenty of pride in the flag, the country, and all those who fought and died to ensure and promote freedom and liberty. You just want to draw attention to injustice.

That’s fine. That’s noble. And I’m not going to accuse you of lying, even though I have my doubts about your version of truth.

But — and here’s where ignorance comes in — disrespect comes in many forms and is not exclusively a result of intent. Disrespect can occur unintentionally, and with your poor choice of timing, you are indirectly showing disrespect toward the country that you call home.

But, as I’ve mentioned, criticizing your motives is not the intent of this post. So, I’ll stop digressing and get back to my point.

Nobody is bashing your cause, good sirs. We all have a measure of respect for your feelings and intentions because anybody who believes in this country and its founding principles believes in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All citizens — legal, of course — of this country should have equal opportunities to make something of themselves.

It’s not your cause; it’s your timing that is awful.

You claim that you’re using your platform and maximizing exposure, but you’re shortsighted in thinking that the national anthem is the best and only time to protest. There are literally dozens of times before, during, and after a football game when you can still be “seen” by the masses as promoting your message.

Here’s a novel concept: maybe instead of practicing your next silly end zone celebration, you drop to a knee and/or raise a fist to do your protest after crossing the goal line? When better to protest than when all eyes are on you, rather than the flag?

Another possibility is maybe right before kickoff, all players who want to protest raise their fists or kneel on the sideline. Everybody in the stadium is amped up, fans have returned to their seats from the bathroom and concession stands and all eyes are down on the playing surface where they can see players kneeling in unity or standing with fists raised.

Another idea is maybe coming out of the huddle, a player raises a fist as he runs to his position. Can you see the quarterback doing that? He is the most-watched player on the field prior to the snap. Everybody who knows football understands that he’s going to receive the snap and he’s the guy worth watching. So why can’t he raise a fist as soon as he breaks the huddle? (other than it being a tremendous distraction and his focus should be on the game)

All of these gestures that I’ve suggested are even more visible than those exhibited during the anthem because the game itself is the focal point on a Sunday afternoon.

Players can still protest and do it with plenty of eyes on them. When you are receiving pushback for your disrespect, instead of fighting it and defiantly maintaining your same course of action, why not consider some alternatives that are just as — if not more effective?

Just don’t do it during the anthem. Don’t disrespect the flag. Whether it’s intentional or not, it’s still disrespect, and you’re looking like overprivileged, anti-American hypocrites.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s iron fist has gone limp

Embed from Getty Images

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the man who was once thought to rule with an iron fist, has apparently pulled out his rubber hand when it comes to ruling on the National Anthem controversy.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday after meeting with team owners for their annual fall meeting, Goodell said he believes all players “should” stand for the national anthem but said nothing about handing down punishments for those who did not.

Ever since Colin Kaepernick — the overrated, underwhelming flash-in-the-pan former NFL quarterback — started sitting on the bench and later kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem last NFL season, there has been a black cloud hovering over the league. A few other players followed Kaepernick’s lead, but it wasn’t until President Donald Trump made a speech at a political rally, weighing in on the actions of these ungrateful players, that the “take a knee” movement really began to pick up steam.

There are so many problems with what the NFL players are doing, but it really starts with the fact that their “platform” seems to be built upon a wet paper towel. While many of the kneeling players and their supporters claim that their protests have nothing to do with dishonoring the flag or all those who have fought and died for the country, their reasoning is faulty at best.

When asked to defend the actions of his very first protest, Kaepernick had this to say following a preseason game in 2016:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick

Are you kidding me? It’s right there in black and white — no pun intended. How anyone can not interpret this as an unpatriotic gesture is beyond me. Refusing to “show pride” in America’s flag is the epitome of being unpatriotic.

Does our country have problems? Of course it does. That doesn’t mean you can’t be proud of it. Spend a year in almost any other country in the world — even the most civilized of them — and you’ll learn to appreciate the greatness of this country, flaws and all.

Go ahead and protest the perceived injustices you are clamoring about in almost any other situation in your life. But don’t do it during the National Anthem. To disrespect the flag, to be a hypocrite and use your First Amendment right — a right that was granted to you by this great country, secured by those who fought and died under that flag you so disdain — is an act of a spoiled, entitled juvenile.

The NFL has been a model for every other major professional sports league in America. The way they conduct business and make it a profitable organization, put forth an entertaining, must-see product, all the while growing its fan base worldwide is something to be emulated.

However, in this one specific area, Goodell and the NFL owners had an opportunity to take a page out of the NBA’s rule book when it comes to the National Anthem.

The NBA’s official rule reads as follows:

“Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.”

NBA’s Rule Book

The NBA has a right to do that. It is not stifling free speech. It is a rule for a private organization. The NFL refused to make such a rule, and it is my belief that Goodell is trying to save face in the midst of all the heat he has taken in recent years over the NFL’s policies on suspensions and enforcement of in-game rules.

The NFL will continue to trot out spoiled brats who don’t understand what a privilege it is to be a millionaire living in America, and it’ll remain that way until the NFL — specifically Roger Goodell — decides to drop the iron fist and regain control of the inmates in the asylum.