By JOEL RAY
During in the New Orleans Saints game against the Carolina Panthers approximately ten Saints players “took a knee” (kneeling on one knee) during the playing of our national anthem.
National Football League (NFL) players taking a knee during our national anthem has become a controversy since former NFL player Colin Kaepernick first took a knee last year during the playing of our national anthem as a protest against police shootings.
Kaepernick’s display of disrespect for our country as a form of protest was unnecessary. One might say he did it as much to draw attention to himself as to protest. The display was unnecessary because as an NFL player Kaepernick had a big soapbox to stand on and make pronouncements since he was interviewed by sports media after every practice and game.
Kaepernick could have gotten his thoughts about police and gun violence out to millions through the media dozens of times without having to resort to disrespecting (in Donald Trump’s view) the American flag, active duty military, veterans and our country as a whole by kneeling during our national anthem.
Now, over a year later, other NFL players, including some New Orleans Saints, are taking a knee during the playing of our national anthem. Their sincerity can be questioned since now, after it has become a national controversy, they suddenly decide to take a knee. It is blatantly obvious that they are just getting on the bandwagon to draw attention to themselves and not because they are sincere about their “protests.”
Some, including President Trump, have called for NFL players who kneel or sit during our national anthem to be fired. That would be wrong. The First Amendment to the Constitution allows for free speech and free expression. What certain NFL players are doing comes under the protection of the First Amendment, they’re exercising their rights as Americans to “protest.”
All Americans have the same rights as NFL players. They have the right to use their freedom of speech to express that they do not like having their national anthem, flag, veterans, military and country as a whole disrespected by pampered millionaire football players.
Patriotic Americans can make their displeasure with the disrespect for our country known by turning their backs to those who disrespect our national anthem and flag by not buying tickets to any NFL game, not buying NFL merchandise, and not watching the NFL on TV. This idea is not new, TV ratings for NFL games are down since the disrespectful “take a knee” protests started.
Patriotic Americans should also turn their backs to athletes in other sports, both professional and amateur, who disrespect America by sitting or kneeling during our national anthem. These insults to our country should not go unchallenged. Veterans should take a leadership role in continuing to defend our flag and national anthem from the disrespect shown by those who sit or kneel during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.
Colin Kaepernick is an unemployed former NFL player because he disrespected our country. No NFL team hired him after his callus and thoughtless display of disrespect.
NFL players are exercising their rights. Patriotic Americans who love our flag and our country should do the same by letting NFL players know loud and clear that disrespecting America is no way to get our respect.
(Times Sports Editor Joel Ray is a member of the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.)