OPINION | Barry Richard: NFL Punts On Patriotism
The National Football League fears the players association more than the fan base. Big mistake.
President Trump on Friday raised holy hell by calling on NFL owners to fire those "SOB" players who take a knee rather than honor the flag during the playing of the National Anthem before each game. The President's remarks ignited a fire storm of reaction from players, owners, coaches and yes, the fans. The sport reacted badly and the owners, most anyway, have misjudged fan reaction.
As a result of Trump's remarks, more players and coaches took a knee on Sunday. Others hid out in the locker room until the National Anthem was over. In an NFL contest played in England players and coaches knelt rather than honor their own flag as the National Anthem was performed. That was a BOZO no-no. You do not dishonor your country while on foreign soil. Just ask The Dixie Chicks how that worked out for them.
All over social media this weekend fans, already sick and tired of the whining by spoiled, wealthy athletes sided with Trump. Fans in virtually every market could be seen burning team jerseys. Many promised to boycott the sport and some walked out of the stadium when their team took a knee. Viewership is down. In some markets way down.
Most owners, including New England Patriot's owner Bob Kraft, fearful I guess of a potential job action by union players were quick to denounce Trump's remarks. They are gambling that the fans will side with the sport and against Trump. That's a mistake.
Football players have a right to protest. Yes, they do. There are many ways to do that without dishonoring their country and those who fought to defend it.
Players who do disrespect the American flag do so at their own risk. If players have a right to express their views than so do the fans. The players speak with their knees, the fans speak with the feet...and their wallets.
And speaking of our wallets, taxpayers subsidize stadiums through various expenditures including tax free loans, municipal bonds and property tax exemptions. Corporate sponsors get to write off luxury boxes and tickets, among other things. This costs taxpayers billions. We are stakeholders and therefore have a lot to say about how this business is run.
All of this began when a disgruntled, overrated quarterback became upset over a lack of playing time. Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee to protest what he said was "racial injustice" while claiming that white police officers were willy-nilly shooting young black men in the streets. A false narrative that has been refuted by reputable newspapers who have bothered to do the research. Kaepernick wore socks mocking police officers. When Kaepernick was unable to attract a job offer at the salary he felt he deserved he cried racism.
By the way, where have all of these other players been over the last year since the knee thing first surfaced? Why are they all of a sudden finding their knees...and their social consciences?
Players have a right to kneel should they chose, though doing so violates the rules of the NFL. Fans have a right to reject it as pure garbage and it appears as though that is what they are doing.
The NFL has miscalculated the fan outrage on all of this and it could have a serious impact on the season and the future of the game.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.