Last week, former sportcaster Vin Scully (shown) expressed his disgust with NFL players kneeling — aka, the “anthem protests” — by making his final announcement: “I will never watch another NFL game again.” Added Scully, “I am so disappointed.… I used to love, during the fall and winter, to watch the NFL on Sunday…. I was in the Navy.… I have overwhelming respect and admiration for anyone who puts on a uniform and goes to war.”
Scully, the voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers and then the Los Angeles Dodgers for an astonishing 67 seasons, was best known for his introduction to Dodger baseball: “It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good [afternoon/evening] to you, wherever you may be!”
Just two days earlier, retired Navy Commander John Wells turned down an award from the New Orleans Saints franchise for his work for veterans as head of the Military Champion Advocacy. He smelled hypocrisy on the part of the Saints: “Although I am touched and honored to be selected for such an award, the ongoing controversy with NFL players’ disrespect for the national flag forces me to decline to participate in the presentation.... [The league's] failure to act is a slap in the face to all of those who have served in uniform. Men and women have fought and died for the flag that the players are disrespecting.”
The Saints, sounded hypocritical in their response: “We respect [Wells’] decision. He has that right and we thank him for his service to our country and his past efforts on behalf of the military and veterans.... [Wells’ decision] is unfortunate and disappointing considering the New Orleans Saints’ unwavering 50-plus year commitment to honor, support and recognize our servicemen and women and veterans. We will not allow Mr. Wells’ decision … to distract our players and organization from continuing to honor and support our military and veterans.”
Last weekend, every team in the NFL, including the Saints, had some members continue to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem.
The founder of Papa John’s Pizza, John Schnatter, knows where the problem started: “Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership. This [situation] should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago. The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country.”
It just may be a coincidence, but Colin Kaepernick first taking a knee in August 2016 was just a few months after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hired a far-left activist, Joe Lockhart, to run the league’s PR department. Goodell might be remembered for being the son of left-liberal Republican Senator Charles Goodell, who cut his anti-war teeth in the 1960s. But Lockhart’s left-wing history makes it easy to conclude that the NFL is now another mouthpiece for the progressive agenda. Lockhart will be remembered for serving as Bill Clinton’s White House press secretary. What is less well known is that he worked on Jimmy Carter’s presidential reelection campaign as well as the campaigns of Democrats Walter Mondale, Paul Simon, Michael Dukakis, and John Kerry.
Jason Whitlock, a co-host of Fox Sports 1’s “Speak for Yourself,” noted an article at ESPN in late October that “portrayed Mr. Goodell as supporting players’ desire to use the NFL as a platform to address whatever social issues they deem important.” Whitlock put two and two together: “Goodell and Lockhart are damaging the league’s longstanding and highly profitable brand.… The question is how long the owners will continue to allow the pair to reshape the NFL.”
This coming Saturday is Veterans’ Day, and veterans’ groups are urging a boycott of all the NFL games being played over the weekend. If such a boycott is successful, perhaps the owners who have hired Goodell to represent them will decide that enough is enough, and show him and his PR manager the door.
Photo: AP Images