I would like to thank Big John for hosting me on Gov Stuff Live yesterday – Volusia County’s premier public affairs forum.
It has been my pleasure to call Big a friend for nearly 30 years now, and I always enjoy his unique take on the topical issues and newsmakers of the day. I also enjoyed speaking with a few regular readers of Barker’s View – thank you for taking the time to call.
While I normally try to stay local, I feel compelled to weigh in on a serious matter of growing national concern.
Like many of you, I have followed with interest – and now utter disgust – the building coast-to-coast shame of National Football League players following the lead of San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick by engaging in various “protests” during the playing of our national anthem before regular season games.
Look, I understand that the same First Amendment rights that allow me to spout-off ad nauseum about government and politics offer Mr. Kaepernick the same protections. What I don’t understand is the blatant disrespect he, and a rising number of other multi-millionaire NFL players, have shown to the United States, our way of life, and those who have given their lives in defense of our communities and this great nation.
Naturally, President Obama quickly weighed in on the issue – from the G20 summit in China of all places – offering his automatic tacit approval of all things anti-police.
In my view, no one – and I mean no one – currently living and thriving under the cloak of freedom and security provided by the United States of America should openly and publicly denigrate our nations flag and national anthem.
I didn’t say they don’t have the right to – I said they shouldn’t do it.
Why? Because it’s wrong.
Because young people adulate and emulate them as role models.
Do we have problems in this country? Certainly.
Do we, as American citizens, have the inalienable right to protest issues of the day? Absolutely.
But for millionaire prima donna athletes to use their celebrity and access to stage these orchestrated, insensitive, and highly inappropriate attacks on our flag and the law enforcement community during these extremely popular nationally televised sports-entertainment events is shameful and quite frankly – repulsive.
Especially on the 15th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks. A day of service and remembrance – Patriots Day.
As a retired law enforcement officer am I bitter? You bet your ass I am.
Damn angry, too.
If the owners, coaches and the league are either unwilling, or incapable, of effectively addressing this on-going and patently shameful slap in the face to the men and women currently serving in our armed forces, our veterans, and our law enforcement officers, then it is time for the fans to correct the problem externally.
After all, the NFL leadership has sent conflicting messages from the outset.
When the Cowboy’s organization sought to show unity with the Dallas Police Department following the tragic deaths of five officers in a July sniper attack by wearing simple “Arm-in-Arm” decals on their helmets, the club’s request was swiftly – almost immediately – denied by league officials.
Yet, players wearing socks depicting pigs in police uniform during practice, or those openly engaging in outrageous physical protests (sitting, kneeling, raising fists, etc.) during the playing of our national anthem, go completely and very noticeably unaddressed.
These failures of leadership fall squarely on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who clearly has the power to control this embarrassing chapter in our nation’s history under the terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement with the Player’s Association.
There are important reasons to keep politics out of sports. Mr. Goodell and the owners know that.
Traditionally, football is something we can all unite around.
Regardless of race, religion or socioeconomic status – we sit shoulder-to-shoulder in a neighborhood bar or in the comfort of our living room recliner – to cheer on our team, celebrate our city or regional pride, and forget about life for a while.
Are we reaching a point in this country where specific teams will now represent various points of view along the political spectrum?
“The police supporters of Dallas do battle with the San Francisco 49ers and Black Lives Matter tonight on Monday Night Football!”
What is professional sports becoming?
What are we becoming?
Frankly, there is little difference anymore between the NFL and the WWE – except everyone knows that pro wrestling is carefully orchestrated theater – while the domestic violence, rape, animal abuse and thuggery by certain NFL players is all too real.
I would like to share a personal request that I believe represents our collective best response to both the players involved and the National Football League:
While I respect the players right to political demonstration; we, the fans, also have a right to be heard.
In that spirit, I hereby refuse to watch or attend any NFL game, or to purchase any officially licensed merchandise, until this appalling practice of “protesting” during our national anthem is stopped.
It is time to boycott.
If the National Football League stands by its decision to prohibit police unity emblems – while openly supporting public demonstrations against law enforcement during the playing of The Star Spangled Banner – then the choice is clear.
At the end of the day, we are not Saints, Dolphins, Packers or Seahawks. We are Americans.
While we may face difficult issues and entrenched political divide in this country, national pastimes like professional football should remain unsullied by self-aggrandizing personal protests and shameful demonstrations on the most popular and most watched stage in America.
Some things are infinitely more important than sports.
In my view, there is no place for this open contempt of our most hallowed national symbols by overpaid, ego-driven sports figures, and it is time we let the National Football League – and companies who advertise their goods and services with them – know that the fans are watching.
In more ways than one.