Folks, you’re missing the point about the NFL protests

This will be short and to the point. Yesterday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke after the two days of meetings with NFL owners. 

Here’s what was reported by Fox News, “NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he believes all players “should” stand for the national anthem — but stopped short of imposing a rule on standing for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

Goodell, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, said it is important for the league and its players to honor and respect “our flag and our country. “We are not afraid of the tough conversations,” he added. “Out of those discussions, [players] understand that owners and the NFL do really care about the issues.” 

Asked about owners who threatened discipline for players who didn’t stand, Goodell said the owners didn’t discuss it. Goodell, who has been in New York City with teams’ owners for their annual fall meeting, defended the athletes who have been taking a knee in protest, saying they are “not doing this to be disrespectful to the flag, but they understand how it’s being interpreted.” 

“We want our players to stand. We’re going to continue to encourage them to stand,” he said. Last week, Goodell sent a memo to NFL executives and club presidents aiming to move past the weeks-long feud between the White House and players. “The current dispute over the national anthem is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country,” he wrote last week. “Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.” 

Just to evidence how absolutely absurd this has become, recently a high school marching band in Ames, Iowa had thirteen of its members walk off the field during the playing of the national anthem. This is what is being proliferated over our nation.

Sure, folks have a First Amendment right of free speech and freedom of expression. But what happens when all of this is ill-conceived and misguided in its core? How racist can it be for multi-millionaire black athletes to have whites paying large sums of money to watch them play a game…and buy their jerseys? Oh, yeah, y’all are talking about those racist white police, yep, the ones who guard the multi-millionaire athletes. No? Oh, I see, you’re talking about the epidemic of police shooting unarmed black men — except that more whites are shot than blacks. As opposed to the genocidal level of blacks killing blacks all over the same inner cities that boast NFL teams. Or how about the racism of an organization founded by a white supremacist named Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood, that has had a hand in the 13 million murders of unborn black children since 1973? No? Oh, I see, that’s not what you’re talking about? Sexism? So now, the NFL players are taking a knee to protest the culture of sexism in the entertainment industry? No?

So, what exactly are these folks protesting, and how does disrespecting the national anthem and the flag of the United States of America have to do with any of this? Doggone, like the United Negro College Fund commercial used to say, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

You know what I wish for? I wish for an NFL that produced a man like Pat Tillman! Y’all remember him, chances are these young folks do not. Pat Tillman was an outstanding college football athlete from Arizona State University, the Sun Devils. Tillman played professional football for the Arizona Cardinals but he answered a greater call of duty – and not a video game.

When 9-11 happened, Pat Tillman quit the NFL. He gave up his million-dollar career, and humbled himself as a U.S. Army Soldier. And not just a Soldier, but as a U.S. Army Infantryman, a Ranger. Who can ever forget that picture of Tillman, an Army Private, marching in his graduation carrying his platoon guidon, that look of purpose, discipline, Americanism.

Sadly, Pat Tillman lost his life in the fog of war in Afghanistan, in combat, as an Army Ranger. He lived the motto of the U.S. Army Rangers, “Rangers lead the way.” He also embodied the motto of the U.S. Army, “This we’ll defend.”

Ask yourself, other than Pittsburgh Steeler Alejandro Villanueva, a West Point graduate and former U.S. Army Ranger combat veteran, could today’s NFL produce another Pat Tillman? Perhaps instead of the images of these big multi-millionaires disrespecting our flag and nation. We should remind folks of Pat Tillman…that was a real professional football player who realized that true service, sacrifice, and commitment was not just on a playing field…it was on a battlefield.

Pat, long live your legacy, and your example…we need it now more than ever.

[Learn more about Allen West’s vision for this nation in his book Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom]

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