(From October, 2017, well before announcement of Nike’s Colin Kaepernick-centric ‘Just Do It’ campaign, or John McCain’s death).
In the past several weeks, we’ve seen a frenetic renewal of last season’s controversy involving NFL players kneeling. during the national anthem (hashtag: #TakeAKnee).
The President of the United States entered into the conversation and went as far as to call the protesting players derogatory names . This, at least temporarily, led to more kneeling, as the spirit of original protest (against police brutality) blended with a call for solidarity among NFL players.
Of course there has been much frothy-mouthed outcry on cable news and social media.
Personally, I don’t care if anybody stands, or takes a knee during the national anthem at an NFL game. I haven’t seen an NFL game in years, and have no plans to watch one again (perhaps, I’ll elaborate on that in a future post).
Though in principle, I support anybody’s right to stand, or sit; (or sing along, or cover your ears) while the song is being played.
Though I have one question for the people who have only recently boycotted, (or threatened to boycott) the league:
Why in the hell were you still watching the NFL?
The league repeatedly has shown a pattern of moral bankruptcy, and yet you’ve supported it to this point. Just in the last fews years alone the NFL has been guilty of :
- Suppression of concussion data and
- Enabling Enabling sexual assault and domestic violence and
- Glorification of a man found guilty of obstruction of justice in a double murder case
Yet, apparently you’ve been cool with all of that so far.
And you’re just now getting angry enough to boycott the NFL (or claim that you’re going to), because players are kneeling during Francis Scott Key’s composition?
Fans threatening to boycott the NFL based solely based on the actions of former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kapernik and his supporters should reacquaint themselves with these cases:
Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was present during a double-murder at Super Bowl festivities in 2001. He was originally charged in the killing though reached a plea-bargain to accept an obstruction of justice conviction. His blood-spattered, XXL white suit “disappeared.” (give me a freakin’ break!).
Despite his admission of guilt, he served no time. I don’t fault his team or the league for that. Rich people get the best trial outcomes. That’s a problem with our justice system, not just the NFL.
However, his team, and the NFL honored him with a statue when he retired. AFTER he obstructed justice…in a DOUBLE MURDER!
Furthermore, upon his retirement he was offered, and accepted a job as an NFL analyst by ESPN, and later by Fox Sports.
That is a problem with the networks. And the NFL. Did you boycott the NFL then?
Several years ago Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson assaulted his son.
Save your argument about discipline, folks. Hitting a 4-year-old with a switch, repeatedly (near and on) the genitals, and drawing blood is not “punishment” it’s assault. (graphic images).
It is ABUSE.
Peterson boasted about the beating in a text to the child’s mother. The child reported to police that Peterson had threatened to punch him in the face if the incident was reported to authorities.
The really bizarre thing is that the child was abused because Peterson was trying to teach him a lesson….that hitting kids is wrong.
Peterson remained in the NFL. And you apparently remained a fan after that.
A notorious 2014 case involved Ravens running back Ray Rice who knocked his girlfriend unconscious in a hotel elevator. A tape of Rice carrying the woman’s limp body was shared widely on the internet. Rice was soon given a suspension of two games.
It’s worth noting that the NFL had previously suspended players for an entire season for smoking marijuana. That’s right, you get suspended for two games if you knock your girlfriend unconscious, but a 16-games game suspension for hitting a bong.
Rice’s suspension was lengthened only after public outcry that was largely driven by release of video of Rice’s punching his girlfriend inside the elevator. Rice was not singed by another NFL team, but was victorious in a wrongful termination suit. He is believed to have settled for an amount that was close to what he’d demanded: $3.5 million.
How’s that for a punishment?
Dolphins lineman Richie Cognito made death threats and repeatedly hurled racial epithets at a teammate (Jonathan Martin) in person, and via text messages. This was initially written off as rookie hazing.
After some outcry in the media, Cognito received a short suspension and later signed for a nearly $16 million contract last year.
That’ll teach him.
(Unlike the previous examples, Duerson was not guilty of a crime, though the NFL has been fraudulent in its claims of concussion-related injuries in the league).
In 2011, former Bears player Dave Duerson took his own life. While all suicides are tragic, what is especially unsettling about Duerson’s is that his last conscious act was to point a gun at his chest rather than his head.
His suicide note specified hat he wanted his brain studied.
Duerson had been plagued in recent years by memory loss, cognitive issues and unexplained aggression and hoped that researchers might find a root cause. Duerson’s autopsy revealed that he suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) a brain condition caused by repeated concussive injuries.
CTE is a large and controversial topic, but the NFL’s history with misdirection on this topic is well chronicled in the documentary “League of Denial” (trailer below):
(I could go on all day with these examples , but I have a house to clean…)
In the 2015-2016 NFL season, Colin Kaepernik began his protests during the national anthem, first sitting, and later kneeling (at the request of a Green Beret soldier) while the song was performed.
That is not a crime (a reminder: obstruction of justice, domestic violence, fraud…are crimes).
I stopped watching football long before the protests, in large part in response to some of the incidents, I’ve cited above.
I never saw Kaepernik play, (or protest). I only vaguely remember hearing his name before the national anthem-related coverage began in 2016.
Several weeks into the 2017 Kaepernik has not signed a contract. His stance (ironically expressed by kneeling ) apparently has cost him a contract this season.
He has been willing to stand (kneel) for his principles.
Are you? If so, why were you OK with supporting the league after any of the other events listed above?
And if your grievance with the #takeaknee movement is that “it’s disrespectful to veterans” that begs a new question: how vigorously did you protest this?
If you didn’t express objection to a presidential candidate’s (now president) disrespect to all POWs (yes, all), your claim that #TakeAKnee insults the military is rather hollow, don’t you think?
In any case, if you’re going to boycott the NFL, then boycott the NFL and quit talking about it. As those sporting-apparel commercials have been telling you for 30 years: just do it.
Regardless of the antagonizing issue—misdirection on brain injuries, enabling of domestic violence, obstruction of justice—there are ample reasons to break from the NFL.
Pick a reason and stick to your principles (if you really have any). Be like Colin Kaepernik (you don’t have “like” Kaepernik).
This Sunday, at the time of day when you’re normally bellied up to the nacho bowl in preparation for a kickoff, get yourself outdoors.
Then go outside next Sunday and the Sunday after that….
If you miss football, then play some football. Enjoy the best weather of the year and run some fly patterns in the park or on your street. Let the neighborhood kids marvel at your over-the-shoulder catches. You’ll enjoy the tranquility. And you could probably use the exercise.
You’ll also have the chance to reflect on whether you are really the principled person you think you are.