As a Civil Rights lawyer, I find it deeply troubling that football players making millions of dollars playing a kids game demean the Country that gave them this privilege and opportunity to do so. Besmirching the national anthem doesn’t accomplish much of anything other than increasing racial divisiveness in our Country. We aren’t talking about solutions, rather we are discussing those who are doing it and whether it is ok. It further polarizes people as opposed to crafting viable solutions. It brings massive attention and publicity to the players who protest as opposed to town hall meetings taking place to bridge the gap in racial inequality. What are any of these players doing financially and time wise to bring about this change that does not really impact them on a personal level. None of them live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to pay bills. How many of these protesting NFL players have actually made time to meet family members of African American men killed by law enforcement? Are any or these protesting players being discriminated against in their professions?
I get a kick out of NBA players and NFL players highly publicizing that they made significant donations to hurricane relief funds to polish their “public image” yet do little to infiltrate troubled areas throughout the US to talk to lower income black youth and law enforcement. Let’s trash the symbolism this country stands for and gain notoriety from it while doing little if anything to come up with solutions. Pretty self serving and hypocritical.
I grew up in Latrobe, PA. known as the summer training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I revered these guys. From my back yard, every summer I could see the Steelers in the distance on the football field. The Steelers always stood for grit, pride, determination and embracing the core blue color values that form the moral fabric of most US citizens. The Steelers were a cult epitomizing the sweat and dirt that emanated from steel and coal workers. The Steelers have always been bigger than football. They symbolized that pride and teamwork can lead to improbable accomplishments and realizing dreams. Tragically, today when nearly the entire Steelers roster (all but one player) protested the national anthem by not appearing on the field, the indelible Steelers legacy of “pride and teamwork” had been usurped by a selfish me, me, me mentality. The “team” vanished. All those hard working western PA folks like me were heartbroken embarrassed and humiliated today. A true Steelers tradition would have been to salute the flag, realize that we live in tough, volatile times, and tighten our belts to “collectively” find creative solutions to racial inequality. The black and gold Terrible Towel legacy was sadly replaced today by narcissism and hypocrisy. Ironically, the Steelers lost to a terrible Chicago Bears team probably because they spent more time figuring out how to protest our Country instead of focusing on the playbook.
While I get free speech, professional athletes run in a different circle. They have huge social media platforms with millions of followers and national TV audiences weekly. Most folks watching and attending games (including me) love the values the US is founded upon and would never think to protest a national anthem. All pro athletes have “morality” clauses in their contracts. In my view, behaving like this gives sports a black eye. It makes many like me disinterested in watching these guys play football. The NFL is privately owned. There is no government involvement such that owners (similar to NASCAR) can threaten to demote or fire players who protest the national anthem because it is not in the best interest of the sport. But none of these rich white boys who own NFL teams have the guts to right a wrong to stop a sinking ship. They are all hypocritical as well coming out with politically correct statements endorsing free speech. How ironic though that 31 white owners proclaim free speech for players to promote racial equality while secretly engaging in and promoting racial inequality by banding together to prevent a black protesting quarterback (Colin Kaepernick) from ever working again in the NFL!