Gold Star Moms v NFL kneelers
By Mark Alexander
On September 24 we respectfully observed a special Mother's Day. The last Sunday in September is designated to honor Gold Star Mothers of military Patriots who died in combat.
Unfortunately, also last Sunday, petulant NFL sports celebrities once again colluded to dishonor our flag and the legacy of Liberty it represents by kneeling, sitting or skipping altogether our nation's great game opening tradition: the performance of our National Anthem.
This was the latest of the NFL's offensive National Anthem fumbles.
The Friday before, ahead of the disgraceful NFL protests, President Donald Trump said, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b—h off the field right now. Out! He's fired. He's fired!' You know, some owner is going to ... say, 'That guy that disrespects our flag, he's fired.'"
In response, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, apparently lacking any sense of self-awareness, said: "Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL."
I would change one word in Goodell's statement so that it more accurately represents this pathetic and disrespectful behavior: "Divisive [protests] like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL." Indeed, it is the NFL that is allowing "an unfortunate lack of respect" for our country to be showcased by a few narcissistic celebrity malcontents, who are idolized by young people.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, misidentified by the MSM as a "supporter of Trump" — he was actually Barack Obama's biggest NFL donor in 2012 and a major supporter of Hillary Clinton and Democrat PACs in the run-up to 2016 — echoed Goodell's remarks: "There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics." Kraft added that he was "deeply disappointed with the tone" of Trump's comments.
Patriots fans were "deeply disappointed" by the political charade, and they loudly booed those players who wouldn't stand for our anthem.
The reaction to Trump's criticism from some NFL players was predictable, as more players joined the anthem protests on the field — in effect warning the owners not to take Trump's advice and fire anyone.
Yet there was a brief glimmer of light amid the defamatory displays.
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle and former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva, who served multiple tours in Afghanistan and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, showed due respect to the flag, though the rest of his team didn't take the field until after the National Anthem. "This We'll Defend" is the U.S. Army motto, and Villanueva upheld it with honor. However, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, who had decided that he would hold his entire team off the field rather than allow a few players to display their disrespect, was critical of Villanueva, saying, "I was looking for 100 percent participation."
Tomlin should have just told his Steelers kneelers to stay off the field for the game too.
After the fact, Villanueva explained that he regretted the implication that none of the other Steelers would have stood with him to honor the anthem: "When everybody sees an image of me standing by myself, everybody thinks that the team and Steelers are not behind me, and that's absolutely wrong. It's quite the opposite. Actually, the entire team would've been out there with me, even the ones that wanted to take a knee."
By Monday, the Leftmedia, in their rush to condemn Villanueva for honoring our flag, fumbled the ball again by falsely insisting that he "apologized" for honoring our flag. In fact, Villanueva did no such thing, as he explained in detail. Notably, his jersey quickly became the bestselling NFL gear item, and as usual, he is donating all proceeds from those sales to the USO and other military support groups.
Of course, all of this celebrity sports grandstanding started last year when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was abandoned by his black parents, then adopted and raised by a loving white couple, complained, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." Kaepernick claimed his protest was based on racist police targeting young black men — but that is a lie based on a myth.
Leftist race-bait hustlers heralded Kaepernick as a hero for his "knee," and then a martyr when no NFL team would hire the mediocre quarterback after he opted out of his contract in San Francisco — a political "win-win."
And on the subject of "taking a knee," let's be clear about this offensive fake "knee" farce. Some suggest that the players are "praying for our country" while on their knee. Hogwash. This is about protest, not prayer.
The last NFL player to take a knee in genuine prayer was Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, and he was skewered for it. Recall in 2015 how NBC's Matt Lauer called Tebow "one of the most popular and polarizing quarterbacks in NFL history." Tebow, who is now a baseball outfielder in the New York Mets organization, is credited for a resurgence in attendance at the games of the Mets' minor league affiliate.
Further, the NFL has in the past threatened fines for 9/11 tributes, and it denied requests by Dallas Cowboys players to wear a tribute emblem after five Dallas police officers were assassinated in 2016. The league denied Arizona Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer's request to honor his friend and former NFL star Pat Tillman, who left his multimillion-dollar NFL job to become an Army Ranger after 9/11 and was killed in Afghanistan. But the phony "hands up, don't shoot" charade by players in St. Louis, and the Anthem protests on the field around the nation, are "acceptable"? And it's OK for Colin Kaepernick to show up in socks depicting police as pigs?
In the wake of all the AWOL athletes, NFL spokesman and former Clinton administration mouthpiece Joe Lockhart says, "There will be no discipline handed down this week for anyone who was not there."
Memo to Joe: According to the NFL's game operations manual, "The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. 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."
The celebrity elites, most of whom have never served anything bigger than their own insatiable egos, just don't get it.
But like you, I do get it.
Our family legacy includes generations of those who have honored their sacred oaths "to Support and Defend" our Constitution at risk of blood and life. We are descended from the Overmountain Men, Patriot settlers in what is now east Tennessee, who fought at Kings Mountain in October of 1780 and defeated Cornwallis' infamously brutal Major Patrick Ferguson. They went on to fight with George Washington to the Revolutionary War's end at Yorktown.
Our 20th century line includes my grandfather who was an early naval aviator in World War I, my father, a World War II naval aviator, and now into the next generation — my son, who is a young Marine officer. Our family understands service beyond self — duty, honor, country — standing in harm's way to defend Liberty for all our countrymen.
On the occasions when our family watches televised sporting events in our home, we stand for the National Anthem.
But the claim to the name "American Patriot" belongs to all Americans who stand in defense of Liberty today, whether one has been an American citizen for 10 days or is descended from 10 generations.
It is our shared legacy and our shared burden to extend Liberty to the next generation. But that legacy is deeply demeaned by those who use their celebrity to dishonor our country's flag, anthem and heritage.
To that end, our nation's largest veterans' groups, the VFW and the American Legion, have both registered strong and unconditional condemnation of the NFL's actions.
Keith Harman, a Vietnam veteran who is national commander of America's 1.7-million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars organization, the largest and oldest combat veterans group, says, "There is a time and place for civil debate, and wearing team jerseys and using sporting events to disrespect our country doesn’t wash with millions of military veterans who have and continue to wear real uniforms on real battlefields around the globe. ... I stand for our flag and anthem, and I kneel for our fallen. That’s what Patriots do. We rally around the flag of our country, not use it and our Constitution as both shield and sword."
American Legion National Commander Denise Rohan, a U.S Army veteran, has said plainly, "The American Legion is one of the original architects of the U.S. Flag Code. That code was produced by 69 patriotic, fraternal, civic and military organizations in 1923. It included members of all political parties, big labor, industry and minorities. The code calls on all present to stand at attention while the anthem is played. It wasn’t political when it was written, and it shouldn’t be political today. Having a right to do something does not make it the right thing to do. ... There are many ways to protest, but the National Anthem should be our moment to stand together as one UNITED States of America."
Last Monday night, ahead of the Dallas Cowboys' victory over the Arizona Cardinals, Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones and his players locked arms and took a knee before the National Anthem. They all then rose in unison to honor the Anthem as an American flag the size of the field was unfurled — to the thunderous cheers of fans.
The week before Jones reiterated his condemnation of Colin Kaepernick and his likeminded protesters, saying that the ball field "is not the place to do anything other than honor the flag and everybody that's given up a little for it."
After the game, Jones said, "We want to stand and respect the flag. Nothing we did tonight says anything other than that, but we also, as a complete team ... want to ... demonstrate that unity is important and equality is important. So, the thing that I'm so proud of these guys for, they did both."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett noted, "Our players get put in a situation where they feel pressure from a lot of different places. They were thoughtful. They were open with each other. ... I'm sure they worked through some disagreements and differences of opinion and different positions, and ultimately, those things — unity and the importance of expressing our support for equality and our country — those are the things that rose to the forefront."
Indeed they did, and they are to be commended for it. On Monday night, the Cowboys lived up to their decades-old nickname: "America's Team."
Meanwhile, NFL principals are endeavoring to put a "happy face" on the disgraceful protests. But increasing numbers of NFL and other sports fans are tired of subsidizing the league's political defamation of our nation, with their ticket fees and tax dollars. We should all question the NFL's anti-trust exemption, which ensures they make billions in profits, though the IRS recognizes the NFL as a 501(c)6 entity, meaning it's treated as a non-profit...
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.