Thank you, Colin Kaepernick. Thank you, leftist football players, coaches, and team owners. You have taught us a useful lesson. We don’t need the NFL. Football is just a game, and we can live without the overpaid professionals.
Like most Americans I grew up watching the NFL on Sunday afternoon and Monday night. It was a fall and winter ritual in our house. But I stopped watching the NFL in 2009, when Michael Vick was brought back into the league after serving a prison sentence for animal abuse and promoting dog fighting. I could not bring myself to support a league that believed it was okay for children to wear jerseys and tape posters to the wall of a guy who tortured and killed dogs. (Michael Vick is now an NFL commentator on Fox Sports.) Once I made that decision, I felt good about it. I discovered it was easy to live without the NFL.
A major attraction for watching games is knowing the players. If they’re familiar to you, you feel like you have a stake in the game. By the same token, if you go one season without watching, you won’t know who is playing and you’ll have no more emotional connection to the game than you would to an English Premier League match between Bournemouth and Leicester. (Who?) That is what the NFL bigwigs fear most.
And if the NFL dies, the left is to blame for killing it. As Dennis Prager likes to say, “The left destroys everything it touches.” I don’t believe, however, it was the intention of the leftist elites to kill the NFL anymore than it was their intention to kill education, movies, television, music, art, and the news media in the US. Their primary goal in all of these cases was to transform the institution into an instrument for their propaganda. Unfortunately, killing the host is a natural consequence of their efforts.
And so it started with comrade Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem expressing contempt for the flag and the country that made him a millionaire. The leftist media gladly promoted his cause and, due to his new celebrity status, he was imitated by useful idiots, pampered star athletes, who, unlike Colin Kaepernick, were not fluent in the ideology of the left but, due to their ignorance, willing to follow his example. And like him they were richer than Croesus in comparison to the ordinary slugs who buy tickets to football games and purchase NFL paraphernalia.
Rightfully so President Trump criticized these myrmidons, albeit in his own crude way. Supporting the flag is something the president should do. As talk show host Jeff Kuhner said, “If he’s not going to stand up for the flag, and for the country, and for the anthem…then what the hell’s he there for?”
The kneejerk response of the left was predictably hostile and fact-free. “(Trump) is further sowing division, sometimes on racial lines,” said Brian Stelter on CNN. “Trump thinks of these black NFL players as little more than gladiators -- enslaved meat and bones who need to do what their ‘owners’ say,” stated Joy Reid of MSNBC. Trump turned to the Republicans’ “’Southern Strategy,’ used for decades to make coded appeals to racial bigotry,” said Jeffrey Robinson of the ACLU.
One of the most revealing responses came from the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Tomlin, who, apparently embarrassed by the one Steelers player who stood with hand over heart during the anthem, said, “Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation. We were gonna be respectful of our football team. Man, these are divisive times in the United States, and it’s a shame but it is.” Yes, respectful of the football team, the venerable old institution of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but not the flag and the country?
Tomlin got everything wrong. The national anthem, the flag—these are things that are supposed to unite us as Americans. If we can’t agree on that, we have nothing in common. We are two groups of people inhabiting the same space but living different lives.
Fortunately, there are still enough of us to have an impact. Empty stadiums and low TV ratings are beginning to take a toll. So now the NFL is trying a new tactic—players and coaches will stand during the national anthem, but instead of putting their helmets under their left arms and their right hands on their hearts, they are locking arms. In other words, they are still insulting flag and country, but they want us to believe they are not.
I, for one, will not shed a tear if the NFL is swept into the dustbin of history.