When the Seattle Seahawks first came into the NFL the previous year in 1976, I was excited that there was a team that was sort of “local” that I could finally cheer for besides the great Steelers teams of the 70’s. And cheer I did, usually with little reward for the effort. Nonetheless, Zorn, Largent, and a handful of other folks became players whom I admired over the years.
I spent a lot of years – hard and disappointing years – of desperate and sometimes pathetic seasons cheering for my Seahawks to even make the playoffs. It got to the point that if the Seahawks beat the hated Raiders, then it was a successful season, regardless of what their win/loss record ended up being at season’s end.
Needless to say, 2013 ended up being a horrible year for me. I lost my wife of 22 years that year and everything seemed dark and despairing for me. And yet, a reprieve from the darkness started 2014 as my long-suffering Seahawks finally went to Super Bowl XLVIII to play the Denver Broncos. I know it seems silly, but it was almost as if my wife had pulled Jesus aside in heaven and asked if He could help me out a bit as I needed something to smile about then. Whether Jesus helped or not, my Seahawks trounced the hapless Broncos 43 to 8 that Sunday and smile from ear to ear I definitely did!
It is amazing what changes four years will bring. This last Sunday, my Seahawks took the field in Nashville to play the Tennessee Titans, but they decided to take the field after the finish of the national anthem was played. So did the Titans. I am, needless to say, embarrassed to be a Seahawks fan today.
This nonsense all started last year when San Francisco 49'ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided he wanted to make a statement against racism and oppression by kneeling when our national anthem was played instead of standing as a sign of respect for our nation.
Now I absolutely agree that Mr. Kaepernick has every right to his free speech, just like we all do. Further, if his coach and employer in the NFL do not forbid his protest, he is even free to take a knee as The Star Spangled Banner plays as he gets ready to do his JOB. That said, he and the hundreds of other NFL players and other professional sports athletes that now seem to be following suit, should not be mistaken in their protests.
The flag doesn’t represent a skin color. It doesn’t represent liberals or conservatives. It doesn’t represent men or women. It doesn’t represent gay or straight people. It doesn’t represent people of faith or atheists. It represents all of us: We the People of the United States of America.
Many people of all colors, political ideologies, and beliefs have died so that Mr. Kaepernick and hundreds of other millionaire pampered athletes can take a knee in protest over the country that allows them this right to free speech in this “racist and oppressive nation.”
Do we have issues of racism and hate today in America? Sadly yes. But if this protest that was started by Mr. Kaepernick was simply meant as a means to start a discussion on racism and oppression, then he and his fellow athletic supporters, just missed the boat.
President Trump once again, while correct in principle, could not state his opinion in a statesman-like and dignified manner when he tweeted out obscenities at these athletes. Instead of taking the high road, now that the media and world attention were clearly focused on this event, the Kaepernick clan chose instead to make this about President Trump instead of their professed cause. President Trump punked them, it would seem.
There are plenty of ways for Mr. Kaepernick and for any famous athlete to make a national case for this important cause besides showing disrespect to the nation and those that died protecting it. While that may engender some support from Leftist fringes, it will not serve their truly important cause well with the majority of Americans. It will only serve to further divide an already turbulent nation.
I am fairly certain, that NFL game attendance and TV viewership will suffer as this trend continues. An overwhelming majority of Americans are good and decent people. They are compassionate and abhor racism as greatly as I do, and would be otherwise sympathetic to Colin Kaepernick’s cause, if he had chosen to present it in a better way. He might have persuaded them to rally behind him in this discussion. By doing what he did though, he has disrespected the country and those millions of Americans past and present that have dedicated their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor in protecting it.
I have a football with the Seahawks' logo on it that is signed by “#3 Russell Wilson, SB XLVIII Champs” sitting in a glass case on my desk in my office. My brother had connections and asked if Wilson could sign that for me after their amazing win. It is a possession that I have cherished since that historic Seahawks' win.
Today, I am thinking about putting it away and out of sight in my closet.
One wonders, if this continues, whether many Americans will do the same with the NFL.