It was a very interesting weekend for football, and one that offered a contrast for me and one of my best friends. On Saturday night, it was the Battle in Bristol between my Tennessee Volunteers and the Virginia Tech Hokies. My Dive Pirates buddy Marlene, a Hokie, and I had fun joking with each other in Cozumel about the game. However, there was a moment that gave both us, former Army officers, a prime moment of pride. It was when country music star Jennifer Nettles stepped up to sing the national anthem before a record crowd of 156,990 at the Bristol Motor Speedway. The huge flag was unfurled on the field and looking up in the stands were the placards that depicted the letters USA and our national colors. The camera panned the crowd and there were veterans and the cadets of Virginia Tech rendering the hand salute. You could hear the crowd singing in unison, a great moment – that’s how it’s done. And after a horrible first quarter, the Vols went on to win the game. But for that special moment, the largest ever audience to see a college football game was united, as one…E Pluribus Unum.
But the following day, on the 15th remembrance of 9-11, my dear and best friend, my forever Pastor, Scott Eynon of Community Christian Church in Tamarac, Florida had a very different experience. Pastor Scott is a diehard Miami Dolphins fan, and I mean not a Sunday will go by in the Fall where he doesn’t have a Dolphins reference in his sermon — appropriately so of course. But Pastor Scott and I texted about a sincere pain he felt this past Sunday.
As reported by NBC Miami, The decision by four Miami Dolphins players to kneel during the national anthem before kickoff against Seattle Sunday is being met with both support and backlash – including from one super model who is engaged to another professional athlete.
Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, Jelani Jenkins and Kenny Stills took a knee just before the anthem began. The four held their hands over their hearts as the anthem played and stood immediately at its conclusion.
“I chose to get involved to see if I could create change, raise awareness. And I want to make it clear that there is no disrespect to the military or to police officers — I’m not about that. I love everyone,” said Jenkins. “I would like to keep moving forward in the right direction with everybody: equal rights, equal opportunity. From my position, it doesn’t seem that it’s happening. That’s why I took a stand.”
The Dolphins got support from one very important person — their boss, team owner Stephen Ross.
“I don’t think it was any lack of respect,” Ross said. “I think everybody here, our team and our whole organization, respects the flag and what it stands for, the soldiers and everything. These guys are really making a conversation of something that’s a very important topic in this country and I’m 100 percent supportive of them.”
Kate Upton, who is engaged to Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, specifically condemned the players’ actions as “more horrific” because they occurred on the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Here’s what I’d like to have: a simple discussion with these players who are taking this action over “social justice,” “equal rights,” and “equal opportunity.” I’d like to know what specific policy they believe the United States of America promotes to hinder these ideals. As a matter of fact, I’d like these football players to explain what social justice, equal rights and equal opportunity mean?
I grew up in the inner city, so perhaps they can articulate what about America kept me — or restrains anyone — from achieving their dream. What is it institutionally about America that supports their protest? I’m quickly tiring of idiotic and asinine general statements which are nothing more than trite sound bites that someone is regurgitating.
And for the Dolphins owner to excuse this disrespect — and yes, that’s what it is…Doggone, I wish former US Navy SEAL, Admiral McCraven, the Chancellor of the University of Texas system, was the commissioner of the NFL. We shared his letter, this directive, with you here. What is it about these privileged perfumed princes that make them believe there’s a national problem with America and the ability of individuals to pursue their own happiness?
It suppose I need to send my message to Colin Kaepernick to the Miami Dolphins. And spare me the “we are not disrespecting our military” line — that is so weak. Yes gentlemen, you are disrespecting the very people who defend the ability for you to make millions of dollars as they stand upon freedom’s ramparts. And sadly, to do so on the 15th remembrance of 9-11, when brave first responders lost their lives…and consider the many members of our Armed Services who lost their lives and carry permanent scars since.
To Mssrs. Foster, Thomas, Jenkins, and Stills, imagine if the Minutemen did as you did and took a knee at Lexington Green and Concord Bridge? What if our young American Army decided to take a knee at Valley Forge? What if the defenders at Ft. McHenry just took a knee when they were being bombarded by the British Navy? Should we have taken a knee in the Meuse-Argonne, Belleau Woods…at Pearl Harbor, Midway, Normandy, Bastogne, Chosin Reservoir, Ia Drang Valley, Hue City, Khe Sanh, Fallujah, Kandahar? Yes, your action is disrespectful to our men and women in uniform, and the disturbing statement that you don’t believe it is just further demonstrates your ignorance in not understanding what drives and motivates us, those who have served – We, who do not take a knee on America.
Let me explain something. We do have a saying in the military, “take a knee.” Normally that order is given when troops are tired and need a break. Or that action happens when troops are pausing to observe, orient, and decide the manner by which they will move forward against the enemy. Regardless, “taking a knee” in the military is just to pause before Charlie Mike (continuing the mission). Let me share some pictures of our brave heroes taking a knee.
Now, look at these men, and tell me if you still believe what you did has any semblance of honor and character. We fight to support your freedom of expression. However, we find dishonorable this ill-conceived action you’ve taken.
So, as long as you express yourself, I’ll feel free to express myself…especially since four generations of men in my family NEVER took a knee when our country called. We stood and as Isaiah said in Chapter 6, Verse 8…”Here am I, send me.”