Thursday, September 7, 2017
NFL's Priorities Stand for Hypocrisy
NFL’s Priorities Stand for Hypocrisy
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 7, 2017
While the Cleveland Browns are the most recent National Football League franchise to make a mockery of the Star Spangled Banner, they are actually doing so with the blessing of the league itself. Another NFL season kicks off this weekend, as flags will be raised and unfurled throughout 16 stadiums, yet there will be a lack of uniformity as the league remains silent on those players demonstrating disdain and disrespect toward the American flag and all it represents.
The NFL, in its current spate of political correctness, is quick to fine players for excessive celebration for anything from a sack to a dance in the endzone following a touchdown. And although it seems perfectly acceptable to blaspheme the National Anthem under the guise of free expression, different socks and/or messages on their shoes are flagged for punishment.
The NFL is demonstrating sheer hypocrisy by not demanding all players stand for the National Anthem. After all, fans in the stands are required to do so, hearing this or a similar announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise, and gentlemen please remove your caps as so-and-so performs/sings our National Anthem.” If it is mandatory for paying customers to stand, why are the players treated any differently? Who are they to receive a special dispensation from standing for the National Anthem.
About a dozen Cleveland Browns players took a knee during their home preseason game on Monday, August 21 versus the New York Giants. Additionally, Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett sat during the National Anthem on Sunday, August 13. And while head coach Pete Carroll said “we should all stand for the anthem,” there were no repercussions against Bennett.
It was just as wrong for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to take a knee last season, as Hall of Famer Jim Brown said he thought it disrespectful and that players like Kaepernick are desecrating the flag. Now, as opening day approaches, and Kaepernick is still unemployed, there are players and a so-called sports writer Skip Bayless who are attempting to bully the league into hiring Kaepernick on racial discrimination grounds. That suggestion is a load of crap. Regardless of his race, Kaepernick has been a distraction and for those in the overwhelming majority, fans simply don’t wish to support a team with a malcontent on its roster.
Taken one step farther, the unions representing the Cleveland police officers and paramedics have announced they will defer from holding a large, roughly field-sized American flag during the pregame ceremonies prior to the Browns season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, September 10.
“I am not going to participate, or work with management, that allows their players to disrespect the flag and the National Anthem,” said Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association, and a veteran of the United States Navy. Loomis expressed shock upon learning that Browns management knew there would be players refusing to stand for the anthem, but did nothing to prevent their actions.
The Browns issued a contradictory statement at halftime of the their game versus the Giants. The Browns organization has a “profound respect for the National Anthem, the U.S. flag and those who serve in the military. We feel it’s important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country, including the freedom of personal expression.” Pure hypocrisy.
So the NFL endorses personal expression when it pertains to something as important as respecting the American flag and the National Anthem, yet rigidly enforces uniform rules regarding socks and shoes. The entire issue is a uniform issue, as in uni = one, one form, as in everyone wearing or doing the same thing - standing for the anthem. Once again, pure hypocrisy.
The NFL and its 32 franchises can enforce a rule requiring its employees, the players, to stand during the National Anthem. If a player wishes to offer personal expression, he should feel welcome to do so on his personal time. Once that player punches the clock, similar to an employee of any other business, they are required to follow the rules as established by their employer, provided they do not require lawbreaking or putting themselves in harm's way. A restaurant employee should not offer personal opinions on issues of the day while serving food to patrons, but once the shift has ended, he or she should be able to express his or her opinion at will. To do so on the clock could prove deleterious to the employer - losing patrons and ultimately income because of a wrong place, wrong time situation. Teams could suffer similar losses when jersey and other merchandise sales slump due to fans speaking with their wallets - refusing to purchase such items representing teams with players disrespecting the flag and ultimately the nation.
Players disobeying the rules should be fined up to the amount of one game’s salary. If players do not like the rules, they are free to find employment elsewhere. The NFL would no doubt disapprove of such enforcement for fear of being called racist when this is not a race issue, but instead, an issue of respect and uniformity. As a business, the NFL is gutless - lacking the intestinal fortitude to do what is right in the eyes of the millions of patriotic Americans, those who wore and continue to wear the uniform, as well as those men and women in blue on the front lines in the cities, towns, villages, and hamlets across this great nation.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. He is a longtime fan of the New York Giants and New York Jets.