An American Hero Was Rebuked Sunday, For Putting His Country Ahead of His Team.
Yesterday was a sad day in our nation, as player after player, team after team, chose to #TakeAKnee while their fans stood proudly, hand over heart, to hear their National Anthem. As a child, I thought the ultimate prize was to win a Gold Medal in the Olympics, and stand on the winner’s podium as the USA’s National Anthem blasted from the speakers. Just thinking about it was enough to make me cry.
But Sunday in Chicago, the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers waited in the locker room as the Anthem played at Soldier Field, while their fans rose from their seats to honor their country. All of the Steelers’ players and coaches, however, stayed hidden in their locker room except for one, offensive tackle, Alejandro Villanueva.
He, alone, emerged from the tunnel and stood proudly, hand over heart; America fell in love.
We felt a connection. Fans across America respect this solitary man who understands, there is nothing in this country so bad we can’t be proud of who we are.
Not A Team Player
Coach Mike Tomlin, on the other hand, was not impressed:
[I]nstead of honoring Villanueva's decision, the head coach rebuked the decorated war veteran.
"Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation," Tomlin told reporters at a post-game press conference. "We were gonna be respectful of our football team."
So, Tobin felt his guys should respect the team before their country, and one guy wasn’t down with it. Seemingly, Tomlin is upset with Villanueva because #78 made the whole team look exactly like what they are: a bunch of chumps.
Now, Alejandro Villanueva is no ordinary professional football player. He is a West Point graduate and a former Army Ranger. He served three tours in Afghanistan meritoriously and was awarded the Bronze Star medal for valor and the Bronze Star medal for overseas service. He wore the uniform and put his life on the line. Heroes never want thanks or honor, it’s all in a day’s work for them. Nevertheless, we know when we’re in their presence they have a special quality, and we’re always fortunate to have them on our team.
Top Selling Jersey
Which is probably why Villanueva (78) jerseys are flying off the shelves. Mom, Apple Pie, Hot Dogs, and the National Anthem are what resonate with working folks. We sit down after a hard week to rest with our family and friends. We want to watch a hard-fought game, not a political protest. These days, we can’t escape this nonsense; it’s at work, on television, in movies, on social media, and at our dinner tables and BBQ’s.
Can’t we just have some football, please? Are you paid millions to express your thoughts? No! You’re paid to hit hard, run fast, kick through the uprights, and score points. If we want your opinion, believe me, we’ll let you know, but in the meantime, please, just play the darn game.
But, But, The Constitution!
The First Amendment keeps the government from infringing on your right to free speech. The Constitution specifically protects the Individual from the tyranny of the majority. It does not, however, protect anyone from the consequences of their behavior.
So, if a team allows individual players to do as they choose during the National Anthem, they are free to do so, and by the same token, fans are free to turn them off and not buy their merchandise. Really, when was the last time these men gave a rip about the Constitution?
The saddest part of all of this hoopla is, nobody seems to understand what they’re so incensed about that they’d choose to denigrate the American Flag. The flag stands for our sovereignty, is a symbol of pride in our exceptionality, and drapes the coffins of those who’ve died in the service of their country.
We’re All Racists
Everyone’s afraid to say what’s on their minds because they fear the “racist” moniker that’s passed around like salt at the dinner table. It sure looks as if it’s an extension of Black Lives Matter, right on the fields of NFL Football. We don’t like it, so we’re racists. That seems pretty simplistic, yet that’s what I’m seeing on social media and ESPN.
We’re expected now to bow down to the uncouth demands of BLM, no matter where we encounter them. The problem is, the vast majority of white folks have no idea what the problem is, and we’re sick of being called racists over something we can’t name. Many of us believe race relations were greatly harmed during the Obama Administration. Many blacks disagree. I don’t know where to begin to repair the damage.
It’s The Culture, Stupid
They’re right about one thing for sure: White people can’t experience what blacks say they experience. We also can’t experience what anyone else experiences. It's probable that this divide is cultural, rather than racial. The main complaints I’ve heard over the last years is that black people feel that they’re targeted unfairly for their race. They probably are in a few isolated instances.
What is missing is a preponderance of evidence. Yes, there are bad cops. The problem for us is that statistically, across the country, their accusations of racism are simply not true. They feel targeted, but according to FBI data, they aren’t. Juries of their peers chose to acquit police officers from Ferguson, MO to Baltimore, MD.
We’re not bad, hateful people. If blacks (or Asians, or Hispanics, or the Purple Polka-Dotted) are being persecuted, we’ll always stand with them shoulder to shoulder; we’re just not seeing it. We need proof— cold, plain, verifiable facts. Feelings don’t count, never have, and hopefully, never will. To paraphrase Ben Shapiro of The Daily Wire, “Facts don’t care about [their] feelings.”
What I do know is the vast majority of the football watching crowd in America is losing respect for the NFL. We see these players as the lucky few that get to play a game for a living, are incredibly well compensated, and only play five months a year. The rest of the year they train and hone their skills, and nobody asks them to stand for anything. What is there for them to complain about?
For five months they are paid to actually play the game; we think they should stand and honor the country that has allowed them to excel and become very wealthy. The fans pay to come to the stadiums, and sometimes even pay to build the stadiums whether they want to or not. Fans buy the jerseys and order SundayTicket to watch from home. Fans make it possible for the NFL to pay this relative handful of guys the big bucks.
Not Too Much To Ask
The American Flag stands for the fans as well as the players, and the fans prefer players and coaches stand together with them. So, a genuine and heartfelt ‘thank you’ goes out to Alejandro Villanueva for standing with the fans, and having his priorities straight.