To the NFL

I am not one of the fortunate who makes a living by playing a game. I do not make millions of dollars a year. I do not get the opportunity to stand in front of cameras, journalists, and corrupt media for my voice and actions to be heard and seen throughout the country. You do. And you are responsible for being a positive influence for all who watch. Many children aspiring to play a professional sport look up to you, possibly even idolizing you more than their own parents. Use that position you’ve been blessed with to promote a good, honest image, not a poor one. 

When you kneel during the United States national anthem, you are not protesting our president for some words he vomited out on social media, police brutality, racism, or any number of other things. No, you’re disrespecting the very nation you live in, and those who fight for it. The same nation that pays you those millions, allowing you to goof around and have fun seventeen weekends out of the year while the rest of us actually work for a living, the whole year, forty hours or more a week of hard labor, with some still unable to make enough to provide for their families. While you might be lucky enough to play a game for ten years of your life and then retire very comfortably, most people work fifty years and never get a chance to fully retire. 

Our country’s anthem and flag are more than you think. It’s more than a symbol, and you should show it much more respect. By all means, please, exercise your right to a peaceful protest. We need more peace. We all carry that right. Just don’t do it during that sacred moment before games. That’s where it is wrong.  

The anthem and flag stands for a nation of women and men, who throughout our history, have united as a team to fight for our freedoms. Women and men who gave up everything; the comfort of their homes, their families. Some of them giving the ultimate sacrifice. Their very lives. 

Do you so easily forget names like George Washington, Peter Salem, Robert Smalls, Ulysses Grant, Grace Murray Hopper, Harriet Tubman, or Elsie S. Ott? They are the real heros, just to name a few, and we all need to learn from them. 

How about those in your own families who fought to protect your rights and freedoms? How would they feel about your actions during the national anthem? I can assure you mine would probably come at me with verbal lashings, and remind me to respect where I came from. You should do the same. 

Or perhaps you forget just a few familiar names specific to your league’s past like Al Blozis, Tom Landry, Bob Kalsu, and Rocky Bleier? If you need a reminder, visit your own hall of fame’s website for a little refresher. The NFL is loaded with a history of patriotism, partnership with the USO, and is even plastered with a logo sporting the red, white, and blue colors of our country.

But, your ratings sag. The most popular sport in America is failing. Not from horrible officiating (though it doesn’t help at all), but from the lack of respect you show your country and your fans. Fans made up of the real American working-class, and fans who, at this very moment, fight for your freedom all across this planet so you can play a game for a living. Fans who hold your future in their hands until you wake up from the arrogance that blinds you. 

You forget that without fans, there is no professional football.

Those same people who fought for your right to football fought for our right to sit out on a boat on Sundays without a television in site. Without those who came and fought, there is no professional football. You say you support your troops, your country, your fans, and you try to show it through good intentioned actions within your league, until those actions turn into an act of insolence and the line is crossed. You kneel on those sidelines and in those fancy suites, your arms locked, your fists to the sky, and you paint a picture with a brush dipped in hypocrisy. 

I can assure you more fans will leave and you will eventually be left with nothing except your egos. Maybe take a step back. Return to your small hometowns. Stop to watch a youth football game where you grew up. There you will see people stand with pride for the national anthem and the country they live in. Families, children, women and men of all races. The future of this nation. People who stand side by side with their hands over their hearts and nothing but love and respect for all.