'You Have Gone Too Far': Vets Respond to the NFL

After seeing the latest football games, Americans should play Monday-morning quarterbacks and not stand on the sidelines while the players are kneeling.  The players are making a sham of the National Anthem by insulting the flag, the nation, those serving, and those who have served, as well as the police, who run into a crisis instead of away from one.

A recent CBS poll reports that approximately 60% of Americans are against kneeling.  In another poll, 34% said they are less likely to watch NFL games because of the Anthem protest. Ned Colletti, the former Dodgers general manager, in his recent book, The Big Chair, said it best.  Although he was speaking of the troubled summer of 1968 and about baseball, the quote could easily be applied today while substituting football for baseball.  He said, "Baseball remained my bed-rock, my refuge from the real-world realities that were all-too-uncomfortably closing in."

American Thinker also asked those who have served how they felt about the players kneeling.

William was in the U.S. Navy and wants the athletes "to stand and place their right hand over their heart during the anthem, not raising their fist in the air.  They act as overpaid and pampered prima donnas."

Mike, who works for the VA, wants "everyone to watch this link.  Few of the participating NFL players can articulate their grievances and willingly or unwittingly promulgate a false narrative about American societal injustices.  This is residual from the Obama-Holder years.  Incontestable.  Incontrovertibly.  Privileged athletes must find more constructive ways to express grievances without offending those who support them with dollars, especially those who served and families who paid the ultimate price."

Val, a retired Air Force colonel, is against the player's actions.  "This is not the time to protest.  It is a time to show respect for the nation.  Generally, employers do not allow their employees to protest during working hours, and it should be the same in the NFL.  Besides, it violates the NFL rules, and players should be fined for this."

Val has a good point, considering that the NFL's Game Operations Manual specifically states, "The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking[.] ... It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country."

Michael, a Marine combat veteran who fought in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968, feels that the National Anthem "should not be used as a tool and the athletes should find another way.  I want the athletes to understand that you signed for millions before you even played a single down of professional football.  But someone who enlisted in the Army, as a combat-tested sergeant, will be paid $32,000 per year.  You will drive a Ferrari on the streets of South Beach.  They will ride in the back of a Blackhawk helicopter with ten other combat-loaded soldiers.  You will sleep at the Ritz.  They will dig a hole in the ground and try to sleep."

He went on to say, "We have tolerated your drug use and DUIs, your domestic violence, and your vulgar displays of wealth.  We should be ashamed for putting our admiration of your physical skills before what is morally right.  But now you have gone too far.  You have insulted our flag, our country, our soldiers, our police officers, and our veterans.  You are living the American dream, yet you disparage our great country.  I am done with NFL football."

Robert served in both Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom in the Air Force.  He is also angry with the sponsors of NFL games.  "I am even more disappointed in Anheuser Busch and USAA as major sponsors.  These two companies, proclaiming themselves to be patriotic, have a great opportunity to influence this issue but instead have decided to remain neutral.  Ford publicly supports the protest.  (I will never buy another Ford.  Stupid decision, as is Busch's.) 

Jason, a retired SEAL, believes in the right to protest but disagrees on how the NFL players are doing it.  "I fought for their right to do so under the First Amendment, but my disagreement over this has led many to call me a racist, a bigot, and someone who does not understand freedom.  I have been told on Twitter that I need to stop making this political, that the flag is merely an object and their right to kneel is protected.  The problem with these statements is that they are the height of hypocrisy.  I served twenty-one years as a U.S. SEAL.  The flag and what it represents go far beyond an object for me.  It represents honor, service, and sacrifice.  I have watched it drape the coffins of too many others who fought for the rights of people to protest."

Instead of dissing their country, athletes should find another form of protest.  There are many sports interview shows and press conference opportunities – or better yet, how about setting up an organization to help their cause?

Debbie, a Gold Star Mother, noted, "When my son Marc died, the first Navy SEAL to die in Iraq, Aug. 2, 2006, I could have sat and complained about the lack of support for our troops and families of the fallen.  Instead, I chose to stand and, figuratively speaking, put on Marc's boots and pick up his weapon and stay in the fight for our troops and families of the fallen.  I was hurting and in the beginning stages of grief, yet I saw a need and knew I could sit and complain, or I could get up and make a difference.  I started America's Mighty Warriors to make a difference.  Stand up like men, and make a difference in the areas you want to change.  Don't sit and disrespect our flag that waves so proudly because of the great sacrifice of so many."

It appears that the Seattle Seahawks heard Debbie, announcing that they would channel their protest into the Seahawks Players Equality and Justice for All Action Fund, which players said would support education and leadership programs addressing equality and justice.

If the NFL players actually are so concerned with racial injustice, then let them actually do something constructive about it on their own time instead of alienating Americans, the fans.  Looking at the polls and ratings, they should understand that what they are doing is actually hurting their cause.  Fans are angry and have closed their minds to understanding the problem.  They should go back to the drawing board and draw up another play that will help them to achieve their goal, because dissing the National Anthem, the flag, and their country is not working.

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.