Trump, The NFL and The Anthem; Respect or Revenge?

Marc Elliott

PALISADE HEAD… If you are a person that follows the triumvirate of sports, politics and business you are probably quite aware of the current battle between Donald Trump,  the NFL and it’s players. What started out last pre-season as a lone player protesting against law enforcement killings of black citizens by “taking a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem has now been co-opted into something totally different from that. It should also be noted that the player in question, Colin Kaepernick, then of the San Francisco Forty Niners, was also doing this in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and after playing out his contract with that club, received no contract to play this year, not even a tryout. I think at this point it’s safe to say that the leagues owners have basically blacklisted this player from getting back into the league.

Needless to say this event got a lot of attention last season and when the NFL pre-season began this summer, and based upon even more distasteful events against people of color here, the “protest” resumed and even picked up momentum as the pre-season wore on. At this point in time the POTUS has interjected himself smack dab into the middle of  this issue. At a recent rally before supporters of his, he stated that “NFL owners who see players disrespecting the flag should say get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired”. In that moment he totally changed the narrative of the original protest. This particular rally was held on a Friday evening and on that Sunday, you could say that it was anything but a normal day of football. 

A couple of teams didn’t leave their locker rooms to appear for the anthem. Other players that hadn’t protested before now joined in. The fervor that encompassed this matter before was now fully engulfed in flames of both patriotism, rage and renewed support for the original cause. As the matter unfolded even further, as he usually does, Trump doubled down on his initial statement saying that any player taking a knee during the anthem was showing disrespect for the flag, our veterans and even our country. At this juncture he has totally commandeered the original intent behind the protest and what it stood for into a whole other matter. Kaepernick never said he disrespected the flag, veterans or the country. He was calling for some light to be shone upon for what at the time, and even now, is a rather important matter.   

When I consider the overall treatment of people of color here in this country, and then the killing of black citizens by law enforcement officers, I can only conclude that we really haven’t evolved here very much. Whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, there is white privilege here in our land. There are two standards of justice, probably actually three when you throw the elites into the mix. These aren’t topics subject to debate for me, they are established fact. But now, our bigoted, selfish, childlike President has thrust himself into yet another social matter that he probably has little understanding of. This has served only to pull more people into this for reasons that weren’t there originally. Surprised? When Trump gets involved, it’s almost always about him.

So now the whole issue is about respect. I’ll get to that in a bit here. For now, lets take a walk down memory lane. Remember when Trump tried to become an NFL team owner? Remember when the league rebuked those efforts? Twice? I do. If you don’t think for that at least a micro second that Trump tried to use his USFL ownership for at least a little bit of revenge I would suggest you don’t understand him too well. If he wants something he doesn’t like being told no. If he loses at something, anything apparently, that’s even more egregious. And he is petty to the point that he’s not above revenge. That’s what his USFL involvement was to an extent.

Alas, like all else he touches in the business world, his team and that league flamed out in spectacular fashion. I don’t have dollars and data here, but he usually fails “upward” and leaves a wake of people to pay for the failures he walks away from smelling like a rose. And in regard to the “sports, politics and business” statement I made earlier, here is another facet of the business part. You know how much impact the words of a President can have on a business or even an entire industry? Both you and I have seen the stock market swings or valuation changes a POTUS sentence or two can have. Trump has placed the entire NFL in his sights, and his false patriotic redneck brigades are reacting with nary a word of First Amendment rights spoken. Jerseys and tickets have been burned en masse. Fans have promised to quit watching the NFL due to these “black ingrates”. 

Is this guy our president or some infantile behavior terrorist? Here’s our “full circle” if you will, we have the sports component, the political and now the business. Trump is clearly against people of color, is a political moron, and a business failure and now wants to drag all of us into his toxic spew. There is a part of me that doesn’t believe Trump is smart enough to consciously tie all of these things together in the manner they seem to be playing out in. I don’t think he is capable. But if he is, it only serves to further expose him and his twisted thinking. For me, I continue to stand with Kaepernick and his original stance, and I will stand for his first amendment rights any day of the week.

Lets ponder for a moment though that this just might boil down to “respect”. The old saying is that you have to give some to get some. Is it respect when your country won’t protect you from the elites that have bought off our government? Is it respect when your kids get sent to a foreign land to die for corporate profit? Have you noticed that the elites kids never go and do that? Is it respect when our laws won’t protect you if you are a person of color? Is it respect when our National Anthem in and of itself is a racist song? I could go on for 10 more pages. Perhaps we need to expand, not limit, the taking of one’s knee in protest of the injustice that is the phony United States of America… PEACE