By Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.
The actions of NFL players kneeling or sitting or raising their fist during the National Anthem are untenable.
The refusal of some players to join in solidarity with their teammates and fans in honor of the country responsible for every one of their freedoms is nothing short of disgraceful. The stated excuse of a call for social justice is both lame and ill-founded and honestly, rings unbelievably hollow. For months, football fans have languished over the continued divisiveness and disrespect exhibited by these players and the further insult from the league in not putting a stop to this despicable behavior.
The conflict finally came to a head Friday when President Trump called out those players while at a rally in Alabama.
But instead of acknowledging the problem, the NFL has decided to double down on its position.
In a statement, NFL Commissioner, Roger Gooddell, said, “The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like [those of President Trump] demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”
Only problem is that from day one of this issue the NFL has refused to be a force for good. On the contrary, by refusing to demand that its players stand for the National Anthem, the NFL has fostered only strife and divisiveness — which it ironically claims to want to create — and continued to disrupt any fragile sense of unity our nation presently has. Indeed, it is Gooddell and the NFL that refuse to understand the overwhelming force for good that honoring our flag and our history is for our nation and our community. And, of course, in doubling down on its position, the NFL now finds itself in the untenable position of having to continue to defend an indefensible act.
Like any business, the NFL lives or dies by its income, and their continued disrespect for these sacred American symbols will continue to hurt it. A 2016 leaked memo expressed the NFL’s concern of its 11% drop in viewership. The same memo dismissed any association with the revolting behavior of its players, but a similarly timed Rasmussen poll seemed to indicate otherwise.
This brings us to today. For those of us who care about our flag, our nation, our history, and our National Anthem, it will be a day when we will have no choice but to turn the TV off on Sunday afternoon, or better yet, spend some extra time at church. For others, the opportunity to leave the stadium immediately following the playing of the National Anthem if just one of those players kneels during its playing (which they undoubtedly will in record numbers) will be well worth the price of admission.
Unfortunately, neither the NFL nor the players care for anything other than the continued fiscal stability of its mammoth conglomerate. Today, it’s time to let them know, that none of us, including overpaid employees of the National Football League, is greater than our nation’s flag, its Anthem, or the Country. And the best way to communicate that message is with our wallets and by directing our attentions elsewhere.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He is the author of The Federalist Pages and serves in the Florida House of Representatives. He can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com to arrange a lecture or book signing.
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