As America honors its war veterans this weekend, a Facebook group with more than 200,000 followers is planning to boycott the NFL in response to the ongoing player protests during the playing of the national anthem.
“We will be not be watching or listening to NFL games on November 12th in solidarity with veterans around the country, as football players have continued to disrespect the national anthem, the American flag, and everything our nation stands for,” says the Facebook page, reported Fox News Insider.
“Until millionaire football players stop protesting the National Anthem of the United States, we’ll be here,” the page says.
In a post to the site, Jill Postema said her family “used to watch Sunday afternoon and evening, Monday evening and Thursday evening.”
“It’s incredibly sad and disgusting to see players disrespect our flag and our service personnel so we stopped watching,” she said. “Now we’re going for more walks, reading books, and getting things done around the house.”
Therese M. Boisen-Gass said her family has not watched a game all season, “and we haven’t missed anything except standing for our national anthem with our hands over our hearts.”
“I refuse to participate in an event that disrespects the United States of America. I despise anyone who disrespects those that have fought and those that gave their lives for our freedom.”
The player protests began in the preseason of the 2016 season when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down during the national anthem, later explaining he was protesting racial inequality and police brutality. The 49ers later released Kaepernick, whose performance has severely declined since leading his team to a Super Bowl in 2012, and he remains a free agent. But many players have continued the protests.
The number of players taking a knee during the anthem, or protesting in some other way, spiked after President Trump entered the controversy with a tweet. Trump urged NFL owners to fire any “son of a b****” who doesn’t respect the anthem and flag.
The protests already have coincided with a noticeable drop in attendance and television ratings.
While the entire league has taken a public relations hit for the protests, a closer examination shows that the protests mostly are confined to players on two teams among America’s most liberal cities, San Francisco and Seattle.
The exception, the Times said, was Sept. 25, when nearly 200 players kneeled in reaction to Trump’s tweet, and Oct. 29, when all but 10 of the Houston Texans took a knee after players accused owner Bob McNair of smearing them.
The paper said most Sundays look more like Nov. 5, when 11 of the 15 players who sat or knelt for the national anthem were members of the Seahawks or 49ers, according to an ESPN tally.
Aside from being blue cities that didn’t vote for Donald Trump, another factor for the San Francisco and Seattle teams has been the leadership of player-activists in the locker rooms.
In San Francisco, safety Eric Reid has led the charge and in Seattle, standout defensive end Michael Bennett has been outspoken.
Protest leader stands for anthem
But Thursday night, before the Seahawks game against the Cardinals in Phoenix, Bennett chose to stand during a special “Salute to Service” night commemorating Veteran’s Day.
“We just wanted to support the vets,” Bennett said after the game, . “There’s this narrative that we don’t support the military, that we hate the military. But it’s never been about that.
“Today was the opportunity to stand up for the military, and that’s what we wanted to do. It’s important for us to show gratitude for the men and women who serve this country every single moment we can, and today was one of those times we were able to show our support for them and what they do for us, and how they sacrifice for their families. That’s what it was about.”
Bennett, whose father is a Navy veteran, has said he also will stand at the Seahawks’ next game, against the Atlanta Falcons, because its Seattle’s “Salute to Service” game, .
Earlier in the season, SBNation reported, Bennett explained why he was sitting for the anthem.
“I hope that I can activate everybody to get off their hands and feet and go out into the communities and push helping each other,” Bennett said. “Sit down with somebody that’s the opposite sex, sit down with somebody that’s the opposite race, different religion and understand that people are different and go out and join the community and try to change the society, change what you’re a part of. If you don’t like it, keep changing it.”
Legendary retired Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, who did play-by-play for CBS Sports telecasts of the NFL for eight years, said recently he “will never watch another NFL game again” because of the player protests.
Scully, who announced Dodgers games for 67 seasons, was asked about the demonstrations after a speech Nov. 4 in Pasadena, California.
“I have only one personal thought, really. And I am so disappointed,” Scully said. “I used to love, during the fall and winter, to watch the NFL on Sunday. And it’s not that I’m some great patriot. I was in the Navy for a year. Didn’t go anywhere. Didn’t do anything. But I have overwhelming respect and admiration for anyone who puts on a uniform and goes to war. So the only thing I can do in my little way is not to preach.”