“We will be not watching or listening to NFL games on November 12th in solidarity with veterans around the country, as football players have continued to disrespect the National Anthem, the American flag, and everything our nation stands for,” reads the Facebook post for a Facebook group called “Boycott the NFL.”
November 12 was chosen because it is the Sunday closest to Veteran’s Day (November 11). The group is also encouraging the boycott to include the two Monday night games, scheduled for November 13.
The group has a goal of 100,000 people to indicate that they will neither attend the games, nor watch them on television that day. If early response is any indication, they will most likely surpass that goal. Less than a week into the effort, the Facebook group already has more than 70,000 members.
In addition to refraining from watching the contests, people are being encouraged to not buy NFL merchandise, or even support businesses that sponsor the NFL.
The group has also released a video that encourages viewers to “Honor our military, many of whom come home with the American flag draped over their coffin. HONOR the best country in the world. This is not about ‘rights’ or ‘race’ … this is about respect!”
President Donald Trump had predicted a fan backlash to the protests during the National Anthem; it appears that his expectations are proving correct.
One would think that the fact that such an effort is being launched would concern the National Football League, from the owners to the players. But neither have, so far, expressed any such concern — at least not publicly. On the contrary, Delanie Walker, a tight end for the Tennessee Titans, even went so far as to express his lack of concern over the boycott, going so far as to tell those boycotting, “Bye.”
“And the fans that don’t want to come to the game? I mean, OK. Bye,” Walker told The Tennessean’s Jason Wolf. “I mean, if you feel that’s something, we’re disrespecting you, don’t come to the game. You don’t have to. No one’s telling you to come to the game. It’s your freedom of choice to do that.”
The Titans skipped the National Anthem last Sunday.
Walker did attempt to argue that the protests during the playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner" are not about disrespecting the military, stating: “First off, I’m going to say this: We’re not disrespecting the military, the men and women that serve in the Army. That’s not what it’s all about. I’ve been to the USO. I support the troops. This is not about that. It’s about equal rights, and that’s all everyone is trying to show, is that we all care about each other.”
Walker’s remarks — that this is about “trying to show we all care about each other” — is most definitely not what this is “all about.” The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee last season, and he was not at all bashful about telling what it was “all about.” He certainly did not say it was all about caring for each other.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people,” Kaepernick declared, explicitly telling us that his protest was against the country. “Cops are getting paid leave for killing people,” he added.
Kaepernick is inconsistent in his opposition to those who “kill people,” because during last year’s controversy it was revealed that he has a high regard for the late Fidel Castro, the Cuban communist dictator who killed thousands of people during his long reign.
All of this effort to link arms for “unity,” and saying it is all about caring for each other, is just an effort to deflect justified criticism. If players are taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem, they are saying they do not like the country — that is, if they are following the example of Kaepernick. And if they are not following Kaepernick, one must ask, what are they linking arms about? Just to have a Kumbaya moment?
One thing is for certain. It is an odd business plan that seeks to make money by telling fans “Bye” if they take offense at your saying that you do not like the country in which you have been able to become a wealthy person by playing a game. The lead singer for the rock group KISS, Paul Stanley, expressed disdain for Kaepernick’s actions, declaring, “Loving your country is always cool.”
Perhaps as NFL TV ratings continue to fall, sponsors refuse to pay astronomical advertising rates to support the league, and owners can no longer pay the ridiculously high salaries of players who choose to tell the fans (the customers) “bye,” this silliness will end.
Maybe it will come to an end on November 12.
Image: Screenshot from one of the Boycott the NFL Facebook pages