Mike Rowe, the host of the Facebook series “Returning the Favor,” is known for his common sense take on pretty much every subject, and while he tends to avoid politics, he did weigh in on the current debate over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
Responding to a question about “what’s happening to professional football” and his opinion on President Trump’s comments about players refusing to stand for the national anthem, Rowe took aim at pretty much everyone involved in the issue.
“In democracies, we the people get the government we deserve,” Rowe said on Facebook. “We also get the celebrities we deserve, the artists we deserve, and the athletes we deserve. Because ultimately, we the people get to decide who and what gets our attention, and who and what does not.”
He continued: “The NFL, the players who choose to kneel, the networks who choose to broadcast their protest, the advertisers who sponsor the games, and the President of the United States, are all eager for our attention. And they are all using football to get it. That’s all well and good, right up to the point where it isn’t. In my view, this controversy really isn’t about patriotism, social justice, racial inequality, or free speech. It’s not even about the flag or the national anthem. It’s really only about one thing – what we will tolerate, and what we won’t.”
Rowe said he was “disappointed” in Trump’s comments on the issue, especially those that encouraged owners to fire players who do not stand.
“Not because I dispute the owners right to do so, and not because I would grieve the dismissal of anyone who chooses to disrespect our flag,” Rowe wrote. “I was disappointed because the President’s comments presuppose that the owners are in charge of the game. They’re not. We are. We decide what to watch, and that decision – far more than any other consideration – will determine the what the owners choose to do. And that in turn will affect what the players choose to do.”
The former “Dirty Jobs” host said Trump had the opportunity to remind Americans that everyone involved in the issue from the players to the networks works for the American people—as does he.
Then Rowe took aim at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL Player’s Association, saying that while their responses were “understandable” they were also “arrogant” because they assumed millions of fans will continue to watch them no matter what happens.
At the end of his post Rowe reminds people that the outcome is in the hands of the fans.
“The fans of professional football are not powerless – we’re just not yet offended enough to turn the channel. Should that ever change in a meaningful way – if for instance, a percentage of football fans relative to those players who chose to kneel during today’s games, chose to watch something else next Sunday – I can assure you…the matter would be resolved by Monday.”