A Nation Divided … down the 50-yard line
Author: Steve Huston  

Lined up on the 50-yard line we see two opposing forces. On one side we see people like the Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, who said in September of last year, “You are all simply paid performers on a stage and that field is my stage! You will stand, with your hand over your heart and with respect, when our Country’s National Anthem is being played or you will no longer be a Dallas Cowboy, a Coach for the Dallas Cowboys or have any association with the Dallas Cowboy Organization! I will immediately fire you, no matter who you are!”

Facing off against such patriotism, there are other coaches, like Jim Harbaugh, when asked if he agreed with President Trump’s statement that players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired stated, “No, I don’t agree with the president, that’s ridiculous. Check the Constitution.” There are many NFL players and team related personnel who decide to kneel during or disrespect the national anthem. They protest what they mistakenly think—and have been indoctrinated to think—this country stands for.

Is this country perfect? By no means…but the words of Pittsburgh Steeler—three tour of duty soldier in Afghanistan, Army Ranger veteran, and only Steelers player to leave the locker room for the national anthem—makes sense, “I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down during the national anthem with a country that’s providing you freedom, providing you $16 million a year … when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for less than $20,000 a year.” (Quoted from 2016)

But it’s crazy, there are many who try not to stand on one side or the other; they stand ON the 50-yard line, hoping to avoid the politicization of this national pastime. Granted, politics should never have entered the football arena; but nonetheless, it’s here and really can’t be avoided now.

Who’s on the 50-yard line?

There’s the Pittsburgh Steelers team that stayed in the locker room during the national anthem, not to protest the anthem but in an attempt to be apolitical. Neither the fans nor this writer sees it that way though. Alejandro Villanueva, who came out for—and respected—the national anthem, received cheers while his teammates who took to the field afterward were the recipients of many boos.

Martha Ford, owner of the Detroit Lions, left her luxury box to join her players on the field, locking arms as a sign of solidarity with the team stating, “We do not support Trump’s call to fire NFL players.” Also that his words “are contrary to the founding principles of our country, and we do not support those comments or opinions.” At 92 years of age one would hope that she would remember the sacrifices at home and the bloodshed abroad that are symbolized by our nation’s flag and anthem. How foolish to claim that any actions or words—particularly anti-American ones–shouldn’t have any consequences.

Perhaps craziest of all is having someone sing the national anthem that kneels with clenched fist raised in the air as he sings the last two words, “the brave,” as occurred at the Detroit Lion’s game Sept. 24. If he’s against the national anthem and the flag—symbols of courage and freedom—why sing it? Why kneel on the words “the brave,” while these players kneel with ingratitude for the freedoms they have, voicing their disdain for the millions of fans who pay their salaries? How is it brave to drop to a knee while someone’s son or daughter is having a flag draped over their coffin? These ungrateful gold-diggers disrespect every gold star family.

Many of those who locked arms and stood with those who disrespectfully knelt during the anthem were really standing against President Trump and his comments made in Alabama about firing those who disrespected America and its symbols of freedom. But let’s not forget, President Trump isn’t the one who started all this; he isn’t the one who made it political. The blame lies at the feet of Colin Kaepernick, who began this movement of disrespect, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who allowed it to continue.

He could’ve put a stop to this politicization of a national sport long ago; but instead, he allowed the divisiveness and disrespect to continue. He hasn’t put a stop to disrespecting American soldiers and American values, but he denied the Dallas Cowboys’ request to wear a decal in honor of slain police officers. His organization’s players can spit in the face of soldiers who fight for our freedom abroad AND police officers who put their lives on the line to protect the law and its citizens at home.  He has called President Trump’s words divisive but ignores the divisive actions that his clubs promote, even among young children in this country who look up to their sports heroes.

Kneeling for prayerful righteousness is rejected but kneeling to promote hate is acceptable and promoted, while hatred for truth continues to grow. We must care about these things. Instead of raising an apathetic flag of surrender, let Roger Goodell know that you’re throwing a flag on this play. Stand fast for our soldiers; stand united for our nation. Stand up for right and against divisive wrong.

Here’s a thought from a Kentucky preacher that we might take and turn into a prayer: “Here’s a thought for all of the NFL players who are ‘taking a knee’ as the American flag waves and the national anthem is played. While you’re down there REPENT and ask God to forgive you for your selfish ingratitude!”

One more thing. It’s easy to be upset about these players and coaches; but how many of us stand at home or place our hand over our heart while the anthem is played? How many stop talking during their parties and respectfully reflect on what has been graciously given up and graciously been given to us?

Take Action!  Click here to send a message to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.


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