Editor’s note: The other day, we asked our audience to email thoughts on the NFL’s treatment of the national anthem. We quickly got on earful. No wonder teams are reconsidering taking a knee this weekend. Don’t forget to write us at email@example.com about all our news and commentary.—Ken McIntyre
Dear Daily Signal: I’m an Air Force retiree whose more than 22 years of service included Vietnam. So many courageous citizens of this great nation have served in the military—some in harm’s way, some not; some voluntarily, some because of the draft—to preserve the freedoms and rights that citizens of the United States of America enjoy after several wars and conflicts just in the past century.
One of those freedoms we protected, and those serving today continue to protect, is the right to show disrespect for our American flag and our national anthem. These two symbols have joined us together in times of strife, such as after our nation became embroiled in the worldwide conflict we now know as World War I; after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii that embroiled us in the fight for our nation’s survival in World War II; and after the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil on Sept. 11, 2001.
In a show of unison as a nation and a show of strength to those who would wipe us off the face of the earth, citizens flew the American flag to a much greater extent than previous years, especially during and after the Vietnam conflict. When the American flag passed by in a parade, or the national anthem was played at a sports venue, we proudly stood up straight to show our love of our country.
The United States isn’t perfect. We all know that. There is strife and discord over racial issues, religious issues, sexual preference issues, and others, but I don’t know of any other nation in which the citizens, immigrants, and even illegal aliens enjoy the freedoms and rights that we enjoy.
So, NFL players, even though we served our country to protect your right to show your disrespect for the flag and the national anthem, that doesn’t mean we approve.
When our military’s men and women came home from Europe and the Pacific after fighting—many voluntarily—to preserve the freedoms of our great nation during World War II, they were welcomed and treated as the heroes and heroines they were.
Unfortunately, sometime after that, athletes became the heroes that our young people worship. Yes, worship. But what have they accomplished that is heroic? Professional athletes use their God-given talents to play a game for which they are very highly paid. What’s heroic about that?
It takes courage to buck a trend that does nothing to heal what’s wrong with this country while refusing to recognize that there is anything right with this country.
I’m not sure how or when showing respect for the national anthem and our flag became “showing respect for those who served and those currently serving” (yes, we need to show our appreciation to them, too). To me, showing respect for the anthem and flag is showing respect to this great nation: One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Granted, we are still working on the “liberty and justice for all,” and the “under God” and “indivisible” have been under fire for some years now.
Yes, it’s your right to show your disrespect. But it’s our right to choose to not watch the teams that show that disrespect.—Clara Locher, Kansas
Dear Daily Signal: I’m a Navy veteran from the Vietnam War era. Never before have I seen a more callous act against our flag. Instead of kneeling before or after the national anthem, rather than during it, these jellyfish choose to disrespect all who fought and died in previous years.
Granted they have the right to protest, but linking it to the flag is cowardly and foolish. It also sends a terrible message to our children in regard to conflict resolution. Instead of London, go play your remaining games in North Korea. See what kind of brutality goes on there.
I sold my Jacksonville Jaguars season tickets. No zone for the NFL for me or my family.—Daniel Galligan, Gainesville, Fla.
Dear Daily Signal: I am very saddened that some National Football League players have decided to protest racial inequality by kneeling through “The Star-Spangled Banner” before football games. The national anthem is such a neat way of uniting the players and fans as Americans before a contest begins. The players are entitled to protest as individuals, however I don’t think they realize what the flag and anthem mean as symbols to those who have fought for this country.
I am a West Point graduate and war veteran. I just can’t be a part of something so disrespectful to me and those who have fought before. My Cleveland Browns fan gear is in the trash. There are many other things that I can do with my Sunday afternoons. Go Army!—Richard Murg, Trabuco Canyon, Calif.
Dear Daily Signal: This embarrassing behavior evidences the total disrespect and anarchy that the elitists in American culture (entertainment, politics, news media) have arrogated for themselves regardless of the positions, beliefs, and convictions of others. These others are totally disregarded as of no value or invisible as the elitist grasps his selfish agenda.
This infantile behavior also evidences the total anarchy regarding the rule of law. A respect for the governing rule of law is fundamental to society’s remaining “civil.” Remove this respect and you remove civility. And this is pure anarchy.
These NFL anarchists are “protesting” in clear violation of rules that say they should not behave in the manner they choose. The NFL’s operations manual, which, unlike its rule book, is not available to the public, states:
During the national anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the national anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.
NFL players curse the rules respecting our nation’s fundamental values and symbols, but they want rules to be enforced on the playing field so they are not hurt. Their arrogance is only surpassed by their inconsistency.
Such fittingly illustrates Emerson’s comment: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”—John L. Kachelman Jr., Kherson, Ukraine
— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) September 11, 2017
Dear Daily Signal: I believe in free speech as protected by our Constitution. I disagree with, but accept, the Supreme Court ruling that desecration of our flag is protected as a form of free speech. I can see where taking a knee and not saluting or putting hand over heart during the performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is free speech.
I also believe the NFL owners and leadership have taken the wrong position regarding players’ taking a knee in a pregame presentation of our national anthem as being something they should allow as “free speech.” They have whiffed on this issue.
Please show me any business enterprise—whether it is restaurants, marketing, health care, manufacturing, or even The Wall Street Journal—where employees, on the clock, would be allowed to posture a political perspective that half the customers, clients, or partners found unacceptable. It would never be condoned and, call me crazy, but that seems a perfect recipe for failure.
I turned off my beloved Chicago Bears game last Sunday and canceled my DVR of the Bears/Packers game Thursday. Next step: Change from buying Budweiser (owned by a Belgian international brewing company) and get my wife to discontinue buying Tide detergent.—Bill Barlow, Columbia, S.C.
Dear Daily Signal: The protests by the NFL show disgusting disrespect to our veterans, our flag, our national anthem, and our country. While they are peaceful, any one of us would be fired for protesting at work. If they really want to fight injustices against blacks, NFL players would be better off going into the inner cities and talking to people about their problems. There are hundreds more black-on-black killings than blacks killed by police.
The players should try to partner with the police to help the poor trust the police. Ninety-nine out of 100 cops are good, honest officers. If the police in these cities and the people worked together, there would be a lot more progress than by having some overpaid, whining football players protesting when we are paying them to entertain.
In all but one of the instances of a black person being killed by a police officer, the person shot was not following instructions police were giving. I am a white female, and if I did that I also probably would be shot. All of this is a lack of respect for authority in our poor communities.—Christy Stone, Vancouver, Wash.
In the 1980s, I watched as Major League Baseball players went on strike because they were not being paid enough to play a game. I became so aggravated with their stance that I vowed to never go to, or watch, another MLB game. I have kept to that promise and have learned to live my life without baseball.
This is from an individual who grew up a devout Cincinnati Reds fan, a man who coached baseball and who would stay up late as a kid with a portable radio held close to my ear to listen to the Reds games. My entire sports focus changed because of that promise.
What those baseball players of the 1980s did is nothing compared to what these National Football League players are doing. As I listen to the talking heads (some of whom actually agree with the players) my disgust continues to grow. As a former Marine, my sense of outrage over these actions has me making other promises: I will never watch another NFL game, I will never purchase a piece of clothing touting how great and wonderful these players are, I will never knowingly purchase a product endorsed by the NFL or its players.
That’s how strongly I feel toward what these spoiled millionaires are doing. I agree with President Trump on this. It is despicable that professional athletes, role models for young people, should be allowed to show such disrespect for the flag.—David W. Trapp, High Point, N.C.
— Beanfrompa ?? (@BeanfromPa) September 12, 2017
I do not believe NFL players should use the national anthem as their “stage” to express political opinions. They are disrespecting our military personnel and first responders as they play-act at the expense of the fans.
As a season ticket holder for 45 years for a West Coast NFL team, I am extremely disappointed in those sitting or kneeling as “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played or sung. Ticket prices help pay their wages. When we don’t attend the games, the vendors suffer as does the income of the team.
So I have a solution for the team owners and coaches: If a player or coach doesn’t want to respect our flag by standing, then stay in the locker room. If you do come on the field for the national anthem and kneel or sit or show any other disrespectful gesture while it is played, then you will be fined 50 percent of your “pay for the day.”
Then let’s see how long that play-acting lasts. Choose another stage, just not where you get paid to play.
God bless America and all those who hold their freedom near and dear to express their opinions, but not at the expense of those who pay you and your faithful fans.
And God bless Alejandro Villanueva. That’s why he was chosen to be an Army Ranger before an NFL player. Bought his jersey and will wear it proudly.—Patti Ising, Livermore, Calif.
The real question is: Are NFL players disrespecting our flag or are they pointing out serious issues in America that need to be dealt with?
This past weekend, I watched NFL football at a local ale house that has multiple large TVs. When our national anthem was played, no one stood or acknowledged our flag or anthem. I think you get the point.
I served (Army) and took the oath to serve and protect my country. That included the rights of individual citizens to peacefully protest, even though I might not like how they do it. Let us stop name-calling and finger-pointing, and actually have a discussion.—Bill McClure, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Cut off government funding to the teams and deport the players including their families.—Paul Hinz, Raleigh, N.C.
There is plenty of shared blame in this NFL debacle. Both sides are ruining the game by politicizing it.
I blame the player who started this thing. Colin Kaepernick selected the wrong venue to express his concerns. He also demonstrated seriously faulty judgment in his choice of girlfriends, and he allowed Nessa Diab to lead him down some bad paths.
I blame the media for continually stirring the pot, not allowing the issue to die down or resolve itself. I blame the National Football League leadership for being spineless and not establishing clear policies.
I blame President Trump for escalating the issue. Leadership is about bringing people together. He has some lingering bad blood with the NFL, and he let personal feelings cloud his judgment. He needs to be “presidential” and lift us all above the fray. He has failed miserably, in my opinion, in this matter.
I blame the players, coaches, and owners who have joined the protest. Do they truly know what this protest is about and why they are protesting?
Who is working to bring communication and resolution? It’s certainly not the media or social media. It’s not the league. It’s not our president. All I see are 140-character bombs being lobbed back and forth.
I am looking for someone to bring leadership and dialog into the situation. I am looking for our president to “stand down” and to perhaps show some humility for once. This situation needs to be defused and turned around—and quickly—or it’s going to become much worse, spreading from the stadiums to the streets.—Chuck Rapp, Indianapolis
NFL players are employees. As an employee, I have been expected to do my job, represent my employer well, offer great customer service, respect my fellow workers, and refrain from offensive behaviors. I have followed guidelines for my appearance, language, and attitude. The expected result is to enhance the business that employs me.
This is universal common sense and has logical consequences. Many NFL fans are patriotic and are at a game for its competition and entertainment. They spend big money to be there, travel, eat, and buy fan stuff. The message being sent is disrespect for the NFL, the fans, and fellow players who have differing values.
The players need a different forum to express their opinions, away from their job sites. The NFL and our country have given them the opportunity to make millions and live in unprecedented luxury. It would seem they could find a way to protest their grievances without offending the people, the history, and the opportunities that have led to their tremendous success. They can always move to another perfect country—if they can find one.—Craig Cuddy, Fredericksburg, Va.
— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) September 27, 2017
My last professional football hero was O.J. Simpson, before he murdered his wife. There was a time when I would watch Monday night football; I have seen one half of a Super Bowl game since.
The antics on the ballfield, the victory dances after a TD, the sense of entitlement, ever higher salaries, the horrific costs of keeping up with demands for ever larger and finer stadiums, coupled with heavy evidence of moral decline and a structural departure from the former climate of simple respect and good sportsmanship—all these have left me wondering: Why do we do this?
Why not play soccer and call it football like the rest of the world? Why should organized team sports matter at all? It’s only a game. We have taught our children that image—fake, ephemeral things that do not benefit anyone at the core—is of greater importance than the habits of building character and essential well-being for a lifetime.
I am done with the empire-building of athletics in general. Let us get back to cultivating the virtues once celebrated by our defunded humanities departments and try to instill in our young the thrill of timeless participation in the good, the true, and the beautiful. Even to pursue the incorruptible pleasure of knowing God.
I am thankful to see a significant turning away from the silliness of the flower children. It seems a majority of Americans are no longer willing to tolerate, and even now repudiate, the slogan “bite the hand that feeds you.” Whose hand are they biting? These young ballplayers don’t even know. Is it the establishment? Is it the social order? Is it God himself, from whom all blessings flow?
This kind of demonstration and more flagrant acts of disrespect have been a scourge in our public life since the 1960s, when it became fashionable for grown men and women to behave as infants. Or as thugs. Or as criminals. It’s all the same.
Our human resources people should recruit and hire bright, skilled, engaging folks who count it a privilege to do the work. Our admissions departments should find out something about the moral compass of the applicants and accept students who live their lives in a principled, self-disciplined, forward-looking attitude of humility and gratitude. This kind of release from the bondage of perpetual discontent, this return to celebrating the small, ordinary pleasures of life, usher in a kind of holy hilarity that makes for a very happy life.—Nancy Beutel, Charlotte, N.C.
Team owners could put an end to this by demanding that players respect the flag while they are in their team’s uniform and on the field earning a paycheck. What players do on their own time is their business, but while they’re earning a paycheck owners have the right to dictate their behavior.
If these players think America is so bad, why did they take advantage of a taxpayer-funded education in middle and high school where they learned their skills? And attend taxpayer-funded universities, many on scholarship? Only in America do they have those opportunities.—L. Stephen Parker, Texas
My opinion: The players, coaches, owners, and other staffers are on the job. Keep political comments out of the stadium. Americans working in their jobs are not allowed a “podium” while on the job. No difference.—Pamela Gutierrez, Texas
I have not before in my lifetime seen such a bunch of spoiled brats in the public eye. If I want to see fit-throwing, I will visit a day care facility. From my point of view, there will be no more NFL in our home.
It amazes me that “adult” men cannot be respectful of all that it has taken to build our nation. If you must protest, let it be in the street. With a placard, at least most could identify you for the idiot you are. On the ballfield, you look like that only to those of us who know what you are actually putting beneath your feet.—E. Larson
The NFL players, coaches, and owners are just a bunch of babies. They’re raking in millions of dollars that only this country and our capitalist system could provide for them. To disrespect the country, the flag, and the national anthem is unconscionable. I’m through rooting for them.—Ken Marx, Fort Worth, Texas
— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) September 26, 2017
Maybe they’d like to give up their freedoms and try standing when terrorists in Afghanistan are bouncing their heads on the floor.—Ted McKinney
The racial equality BS is a smokescreen the left is using to harm the NFL. I’m not even a sports fan and I can see what is happening. The owners need to get it together and fire these idiots.—Mickey Cytacki, Texas
I would enter suit against the NFL to make them stop using “American” or “National” in their names or logos. Next, I would double their taxes. The NFL should be ashamed of its actions or lack of actions. Only Dallas did the right thing. I will plan to watch college football.—Doug Anderson, Cottonwood Heights, Utah
An essay by Jazz Shaw in Hot Air suggests that the left is using the protests, not only against police, racism, and the country, but to end football. Ending football certainly has been on their agenda, as exemplified by trying to end it in schools due to the risk of concussions. Now they have the right riled up against football, so the sport is being attacked from both sides. Once again, the left may attain their goal.—Kent Brown, Grants Pass, Ore.
The NFL players should give 50 percent of their salary to help the poor communities and people they feel are mistreated and 50 percent of their free time to teaching respect to those same people. Also train as a policeman and ride for six months with the police officers they think are unfair. If they really are concerned, then do something where they don’t get so much attention. Let’s see how many will be concerned then.—Judy Rogers, New Mexico
I believe in freedom of speech, so the players should have the right to express their opinion. Having said that, I believe it should be on their own time and not in their workplace (kneeling on the field or staying in the locker room) unless their boss is paying them to protest.—Catherine Nonhoff, Washington
— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) September 26, 2017
We, as the funding patrons for sports, can protest as well by turning our backs to the teams when they enter the field. Better still, stay home and boycott the sponsors. As a veteran, I am disgusted with the lack of respect for all those who have fought and died so we could watch sporting events in peace. For shame. —John Arribas
President Trump means well, but his comments were unpresidential. “Respect our flag” was enough. He keeps saying things that add fuel to the liberal media and Dems. Name-calling the “Rocket Man” was another blunder. The Republican Party has the House, Senate, and White House and we cannot work together. It’s depressing.—Lucy Loftus
I am surprised how the media’s part in this whole NFL fiasco has not been reported. Kaepernick took a knee against police brutality, but since then the media has warped the protests into an anti-American movement that most players deny (but that is not reported.)
What to do? In baseball, when a fan runs on the field the cameras don’t show it. That makes sense so as not to embolden others to get their 15 minutes of fame. The NFL should institute a rule that during the national anthem cameras are focused on the singer and the flag only. Do not show the players at all.—Rick Reed, Boonton, N.J.
As long as people seem to be organizing to protest everything, especially those things that they don’t understand very well, why don’t we organize a boycott of the NFL and these overpaid, undereducated prima donnas?—John Mercer, Phoenix
"Sundays aren’t just for church anymore—now they're for getting a political sermon from the NFL." https://t.co/BJqkFCzpfG
— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) September 28, 2017
Now that the NFL has our attention, let’s go further than the “taking a knee” behavior and ask why a sports figure should be paid $1 million plus on the backs of families earning much less than one-tenth as much.
Sporting events should be available at a reasonable price, not one that breaks the bank while making millionaires of woefully undereducated, hostile, and ungrateful bullies. A published list of NFL salaries is in order to shine a spotlight on money badly spent.
That the Defense Department has paid the NFL over $6 million over the past four years, according to The Washington Times, is actually sickening.—Elizabeth Ward Nottrodt, Baltimore
Football was a break from the ails of life. We were able to escape politics and enjoy the fun. Now the players have destroyed the game. They brought politics into a place it doesn’t belong. Off the field, OK. On the field, not OK. Very disappointed.—J. Scott, Arizona
I quit having interest in the NFL and football in general when the league reinstated Michael Vick to play. So many NFL players have been involved in horrific crimes that my disgust level has reached far beyond acid reflux.
I doubt sports greats who actually advanced men and women of color in sports would kneel for the national anthem. Jackie Robinson is my reference here.
These dopes on their knees probably think they are in the limelight, but nay, they are in the hot-seat spotlight. Their disrespect for the advantage given them in this country to earn huge paychecks shows their ignorance. I am done with football and whiners.—Ward Moss, New Fairfield, Conn.