Paid Patriotism

Well, well, well, as it turns out: some of you part-time patriot, full-time NFL executives are full of shit.

Much commotion has been made in regards to 49-er quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality and the general mistreatment that many minorities perceive themselves being subjected to – not victimized by.

In case you’ve ripped out your car radio, or don’t have access to adequate wifi, or a television, or friends, the former-stud-turned-second-string QB made mainstream waves a few weeks ago, when he opted to pass on showing the traditional respect we’ve all been taught to display during the playing of our beloved national anthem.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick explained when asked about the decision. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Despite severe scrutiny via the establishment, the dual quarterback continued his act of civil disobedience, modifying his protest from sitting, to kneeling, in an effort to show respect to our service veterans he was ascribed as showing contempt towards. Just because, I guess…

Since then, many other professional football players have followed suite, showing support for Kaepernick’s cause by kneeling during the playing of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’. Ironically however, Kaepernick’s protest appears to have produced more questions concerned with patriotism and the United States Military, than the social injustices he attempted to bring awareness towards.

“The forum of the NFL and the forum on television is a very significant thing,” expressed Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys. “I’m for it being used, in every way we can, to support the great contributors in our society that is people that have supported America, and the flag … For anybody to use parts of that visibility to do otherwise is really disappointing.”

Agreed Mr. Jones, agreed. I guess the millions of people of color concerned with police abuse aren’t the great contributors Jones is looking for, nor have they done enough to support America.

Sports commentator Stephen A. Smith dropped a bomb of a reminder on those who believe it to be an honor to put your right hand across your heart, and raise your chin proudly to our nation’s song…..for a long time, that honor, was paid for, and you paid for it.

“Up until 2009, no NFL player stood for the national anthem because players actually stayed in the locker room as the anthem played,” Smith said yesterday during the airing of ESPN’s First Take. “The players were moved to the field during the national anthem because it was seen as a marketing strategy to make the athletes look more patriotic. The United States Department of Defense paid the National Football League $5.4 million between 2011 and 2014 and the National Guard [paid the NFL] $6.7 million between 2013 and 2015 to stage on-field patriotic ceremonies as part of military recruitment and budget-line items.”

The total value of these marketing contracts were somewhat discovered after the release of a November 2015 report by Senators John McCain, and Jeff Flake. It was found that over $10 million was paid to multiple sports franchises. Even more troubling, the study reported that the Department of Defense could only account for 62 percent of the tax dollars they paid to teams, such as the Atlanta Falcons, and the New York Jets, for military tributes such as on-field color guard, enlistment and reenlistment ceremonies, performances of the national anthem, full-field flag details, ceremonial first pitches͕, and puck drops.

“All these major league sports teams do a lot of good work for the military, a lot of good work, that dwarfs anything in these contracts,” Senator Flake said at a press conference promoting the report. “What is upsetting is that when you see activities like this, that people assume when they go to games, are paid for out of the goodness of the heart by the owners and the teams, then to find out the taxpayer’s paying for it, it kind of cheapens the whole lot, and that’s simply not right,” he said.

“Those of us go to sporting events and see them honoring the heroes; you get a good feeling in your heart,” Flake continued. “Then to find out they’re doing it because they’re compensated for it, it leaves you underwhelmed. It seems a little unseemly.”

Cognizant of how bad the practice coined “paid patriotism” looked, the NFL quickly asked teams to no longer accept tax payers money and even said that they’d look into returning the funds. Senator Mccain suggested the brand donate the money to veterans’ causes. That might be more tangibly respectful than standing for a song written in the 1800’s.

Additionally, McCain, a former Navy aviator of 22 years and an ex-prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years, said he was appalled at the payment of tax dollars to wealthy sports franchises, as every American should be. If the NFL brand was so patriotic, why not offer the use of their platform as a public service? Instead, some of the wealthiest franchises in the country, in association with the Department of Defense, took millions of tax dollars that could have been employed to serve those who actually serve our country. Then they have the audacity to fashion themselves appraisers of patriotism? Foh!

So there it is folks, the same league up in arms with concerns to a player modifying his stance during our nation’s theme song – because it is disrespectful to the military – was the same league that just last year, needed millions of American tax dollars to convince them to allow players to participate in the nation anthem in the first place. I call bullshit. A big stinky, steaming pile of bullshit. So what’s the problem really?