February 3, 1959 is the “day the music died.” That’s the day Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper were killed when their plane crashed and burned in an Iowa cornfield, a day immortalized in Don McLean’s “Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie.”
September 24, 2017 will go down in history as the day the NFL died. It died because its pampered, babied, overgrown millionaires showed an utter lack of respect for their country and their flag and insulted every working American who buys tickets to watch them play a game.
It died because players, coaches, and owners alike insulted a country that gave them the opportunity to make an obscene amount of money that almost everyone in the stands can only dream of. They insulted a supposedly racist country in which African-American athletes make millions of dollars playing in a league in which 68% of the players are black. Their lack of gratitude is staggering, grotesque, and utterly offensive.
To make matters worse, these players chose National Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day to diss America, a day set aside by Congress to remember the families of those who paid the last full measure of devotion for our security, our safety, and our freedom.
Easily the defining moment of the day came in London, where the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars played the NFL’s annual game in the United Kingdom. The players - along with the Muslim owner of the Jaguars - locked arms and refused to honor America’s national anthem but stood as one in respectful attention while the national anthem of the UK was being played. They would not honor the “Star-Spangled Banner” but stood in honor of “God Save the Queen.” That moment, that moment right there, is the moment the NFL died.
It should be noted that the 17 Ravens and Jaguar players who defied their country’s flag on foreign soil make a combined $448,373,425, an amount greater than the gross domestic product of a number of the world’s nations.
In America, three teams (the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Tennessee Titans) stayed in the locker rooms for the playing of the national anthem, despite the fact that NFL policy requires them to be fined for doing so. (An NFL official told ESPN the feeble and weak-kneed head office has no interest in imposing any fines at all.) But the truth is if the NFL can fine entire teams for disrespecting the flag, they can certainly fine individual players for doing the same thing.
Only one player for the Steelers, former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva, a veteran of three tours in Afghanistan, came out of the locker room and stood at attention for the national anthem. The rest of the Steelers hid like surly cowards in the bowels of the stadium while the rest of the stadium honored America. By the count of the Associated Press, across the league over 200 players dissed their nation and their flag yesterday.
Thirty-two Denver Broncos took a knee, and LeSean McCoy of the Buffalo Bills nonchalantly did his stretching exercises during the anthem. Black Power salutes are now common not only on the sidelines but during the game in celebration of sacks, interceptions, and touchdowns. If the NFL does not get a handle on this right now, it’s going to get ugly as new forms of angry protest are devised.
In Detroit, anthem singer Rico LaVelle dropped to one knee and raised the black power salute at the end of the song. Another national anthem artist did much the same thing.
In most stadiums, boos descended from the stands in response to these disgraceful protests. The NFL, in other words, is committing hari-kari in front of the whole world.
Meanwhile, NASCAR owners made it clear that if a driver pulled a stunt like this in the NASCAR world he’d get fired so fast he’d get a nosebleed.
Federal law is quite clear on the proper protocol for the response to the national anthem in 36 U.S. Code, Section 301. After directions are given to individuals in uniform and to military veterans, the law says (emphasis mine) “all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.”
It’s worth noting that if NFL players are linking arms, they cannot place their “right hand over the heart.” While there is no penalty specified for breaking this law, the law nevertheless is straightforward and unambiguous. NFL players who refuse to show respect for the anthem and the flag are not just flouting American ideals, they are breaking the law. The NFL can and should fine them for doing so.
The NFL’s players need to learn one lesson: when it’s time to pray, you go to your knees. When it’s time to honor your country, you rise to your feet. Period.
The media mocked Tim Tebow for taking a knee on the sideline to honor God. Now they glorify overpaid athletes for taking a knee on the sideline to dishonor America.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees correctly observed that those who are looking for a display of unity in America are missing a glorious opportunity.
I will always feel that, if you are an American, that the national anthem is the opportunity for us all to stand up together, to be unified, and to show respect for our country. To show respect for what it stands for, the birth of our nation...I feel like that is a unifying thing. The national anthem and standing for the national anthem, and looking at the flag with a hand over the heart is a unifying thing that should bring us all together. And say, 'You know what? We know things are not where they should be, but we're going to work and strive to make things better.' To bring equality to all people -- men, women, no matter your race, creed, religion, it doesn't matter. Equality for all. But if you're an American, then I will always believe that we should be standing, showing respect for our flag, with our hand over our heart.
The bottom line: with yesterday’s reprehensible shenanigans, the NFL has become the nation’s largest and most powerful hate group. And it is America that they hate. May the NFL rest in peace.
And let’s hope that NFL players and fans alike do not forget that there is a day coming when taking a knee will be the right thing to do. It will, in fact, be the only thing anyone will be able to do. Everyone in the universe will take a knee, not in protest but in submission. “At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). Maybe that’s the day we all should make sure we are ready for.