“Take a knee in the blood-drenched sands of Fallujah in 110° heat. Trade in your pads for a Kevlar helmet and battle dress….You’ll have to stay hydrated, but there won’t be anyone to squirt Gatorade into your mouth. And watch out for those IEDs when you take a knee. I am done with the NFL.” ~Anonymous
Do you know who really dislikes NFL players taking a knee? The military. Veterans. With cause.
Over the Thanksgiving holidays I was in line at a restaurant. In front of us a Texan who, like us, had been waiting for the top of the hour, when seniors could get a discount buffet. Outspoken, afraid of nobody, he was almost aflame against NFL players taking a knee, disrespecting the flag and the national anthem. A patriot, career USMC, he’d been in the service over 20 years, spent three tours in Korea, would’ve stayed in the service longer, but didn’t want to do yet a fourth stint in Korea. Now retired, passionate about this country. When those kneelers acted that way, they were disrespecting not only the anthem, but him and all the other vets who’d fought to keep this country free. He was through with the NFL.
After we seniors had gotten our plate and our food, our waitress came by. A mature woman who’d played basketball in college. When she caught us watching a football game on the TV, at first she was almost livid, exhibiting the same kind of passion the customer in line had shown. One of us, quick to cool her, assured her this was college football. We didn’t watch NFL either. All the men in her family had been in the military. USMC. “The few, the proud, the Marines.” Four career military retirees, each of whom had served over 20 years. “80 years total,” she was telling us, not to mention other former and current military in her household who hadn’t stayed as long. “And look how those guys take a knee, showing no respect for the flag, the anthem, the people who’ve served their country.”
Another thing that galled her was the money. The average salary of an NFL player is $1.9 million/year. Soldiers put their life on the line for a tiny fraction of that. Even today a raw recruit makes only about $1,500/month ($18,000/year), which hardly keeps body and soul together. Some servicemen qualify for food stamps and public housing. Some come home broken, or maimed. By contrast, here were these fat cat NFL players, with their multimillions, their limos, their egos, their glory, all the perks, in effect, casting dirt in the teeth of hardworking patriots. She wasn’t going to put up with it. No, sir. “If they want to act like that, let them go to Russia or Red China and see how long they last.”
Her point was well-taken. The disparity between the haves and the have-nots. The contrast between the rich, arrogant guys protesting with their knees and the poor, serious guys keeping this country safe so the insulated and comfortable could thumb their nose at the American flag. If the military ever took a knee, the NFL wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.
“On this issue, I have to stand with my brothers who served in combat. I stand with the wife of my friend killed in action, who abhors politics, but who is deeply and terribly wounded by all this.” ~Michael Caputo
Copyright © 2017 Alexandra Lee