Ever since I was little I've always loved my Chicago Bears. It doesn't matter to me that they've constantly let me down and last year attempted to start a human-giraffe hybrid at quarterback. I love them anyway. It's the same love a father has for a son who constantly disappoints him.
But the NFL, and Rodger Goodell, have done their best to make rooting for the most popular sport in America as difficult as possible. Recently the NFL decided to do what any tone-deaf organization, that doesn't understand basic history, would do and that's try to ban something instead of listening to the people affected by it. Why wouldn't the NFL do that? It's not like we have countless examples in history of organizations or governments trying to silence people publicly and it having the opposite effect.
I hate how this discussion is constantly trying to be pulled away from it's original intention by those in power who seek to silence the educated. In order for me to completely explain why I'm upset I think it's best if I just addressed some of the most common arguments that I hear from people who side with the NFL and the team owners.
"People fought and died for our country so they could make millions of dollars playing a children's game."
Our nations flag and national anthem, if you couldn't tell by their titles, represent the United States as a whole and not just the military. Matter of fact no single symbolic part of the flag has anything to do with our military. That's why every single branch of the military has their own flag and their own song to represent them. You shouldn't view the flag as a symbol of our military or war, but as our ideals and people. Our greatest accomplishments are not our glorified, bloody victories, but our growth as a nation.
People fought and died for our freedom to protest injustice. Saying you can't protest because people died for your right to protest is circular reasoning. As a veteran, I'm sick of people using us and those who are currently serving as political pawns to further their own agenda. This discussion has nothing to do with the military and was only introduced to try and get public opinion on the NFL's side. This is a classic tactic used by rich, powerful people throughout history. Why people think these men (and a handful of women), who have never shown any interest for anything but themselves, care about "what's right" is mind bottling to me.
If NFL players walked into a VFW during their monthly meeting/drinking session and started taking all their kegs away then yeah, you could say they were disrespecting veterans. Every single player has said they respect our military and it's not about them. Stop trying to bring us into it.
"The NFL should just be about football. Who cares about that other stuff?"
Professional football is a huge part of American culture and this gives the league and players massive influence. It's been completely fine for years for NFL players to use their platform to sell stuff like clothing, pizza, and insurance, but as soon as one of them actually tries to do something that has real meaning it's ruining the game for you? So we're all cool with this, but somehow hate this?
We all seemed to get over the fact that the NFL and the US Army both purposefully suppressed information about Pat Tillman's death because they knew the truth would affect their recruitment numbers. Deliberately lying to people who are making one of the biggest decisions of their life is way more harmful to someone than taking a knee during a song. Good thing we're totally cool with the NFL promoting military enlistment and having the US government pay them to do so. These are the same people saying that players kneeling is giving them a bad name. Okay guys, whatever you say.
"The players work for the NFL and just like any job, the NFL can tell their players/employees what they can and can't do."
This would be true if it weren't for the fact that NFL Players are apart of a union. A union that had to be formed because rich jerks were taking advantage of them. NFL owners are a bunch of wrinkly, old, out of shape, goofs who need players with world class abilities to play their game. The two sides need each other and it's best for both parties to work on issues together.
This is about ethics and doing what's right. We're talking about players wanting to do something positive with their platform. To bring awareness to a problem that is near and dear to them. There is no reason why the NFL couldn't work with the players before any of this happened or at any point after the kneeling started. Are these same people who are offended by players kneeling during the anthem forgetting the pledge of allegiance? Specifically the part about "in justice for all"? Trying to bring attention to human rights atrocities should be seen as a positive thing no matter what your political affiliation.
"I think they should protest, but why can't they protest some other way."
I'm sorry, but you're not in charge of how a group of oppressed people are allowed to protest. If you're apart of the minority you have to find a way to get the majority to listen. Change doesn't happen without some sort of sacrifice and on the list of sacrifices a select group of people taking a knee during the unnecessary playing of the American National Anthem while idiots sit at home on the couch wearing expensive merchandise is a pretty small sacrifice to get people talking.
I would also like to ask how many of you stand in your living room or even just remove your hat while that same national anthem is playing on your TV? I'm guessing it's a real small percentage.
So what should the NFL have done?
As soon as the first player took a knee the NFL should have said, "Hey, we see that this is an important issue to you. Enough so that you risked losing your multi-million dollar job over it. Let's talk about what we can do to help raise awareness for your cause." This wouldn't have to turned into a huge issue and the NFL could use their power to help people. Instead they thought the best route was to ignore the problem for two years and then try to force their own players to stop. Thus creating a huge news story about the whole topic for people to debate about for months and tarnish your brand more. I don't how the NFL is the good guy in this situation.
The protests got people talking and that's exactly what their goal was. You're not going to end injustice by taking a knee, but hopefully you can get a lot of people talking about it so you can actually make a change. Racial equality shouldn't be a topic of debate in a country that is truly free. It should be something that is assumed. Professional football players don't hate the troops or America. They want America to grow and be a better place and there is nothing more American than that.
I'm a veteran and I hate the NFL.
Filed under: NFL