NFL Kneelers Disrespect Disabled Navy Vet

Posted on Thu 11/23/2017 by


By Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (RET) ~

The height of hypocrisy by NFL players kneeling for our national anthem was demonstrated last week by the New Orleans Saints. It leaves their critics shaking their heads in disbelief as to just how low kneelers will go to be disrespectful, not only of our flag, but also of those who defend what it represents.

At home games, the Saints present a People’s Health Champion Award to a senior citizen demonstrating “exceptional achievements.” One so selected for this honor was John Wells – a retired U.S. Navy commander.

However, as a critic of NFL players’ anthem shenanigans, Wells said, although “honored” by the Saints’ selection, he could not accept an award “tainted with the dishonorable actions of the NFL and its players.” Wells made clear the NFL’s failure to end player disrespect for our anthem “is a slap in the face to all of those who have served in uniform. Men and women have fought and died for the flag that the players are disrespecting.” It, therefore, “would be hypocritical” for him to accept the award.

Wells understands the meaning of the word “hypocritical”; apparently the Saints organization does not. The franchise criticized Wells for rejecting its award.

Common sense dictated the Saints handle Wells – a disabled veteran – with sensitivity – perhaps engaging him in a private discussion about the matter. However, no effort was made to do so. Instead, the Saints adopted a holier-than-thou attitude, apparently taking Wells’ rejection of the award as an affront to them. They publicly issued a statement blaming Wells for choosing to “distract from awareness we hoped to build throughout our community.” Not content to leave it at that, they called Wells’ actions “unfortunate and disappointing” as well as “sad and divisive.”

It is ludicrous for the Saints to blame Wells for distracting from their awareness effort and of being “divisive.” After all, it has been their actions that have been “sad and divisive” in their unwarranted kneeling campaign that led to their disrespect of our nation’s flag and anthem in the first place.

As one critic noted, while most kneelers would be “clueless” as to why they are protesting, Wells certainly is not about his. Yet, in choosing to put country before personal recognition, he was disrespected by a Saints organization that did so because he dared challenge their sanctimonious actions. The Saints’ response to Wells suggests he hit a nerve with his own protest.

These kneelers, whether part of the Saints organization or other NFL teams, remain oblivious as to what a flag, which they nonchalantly denigrate, means to those choosing to honor it.

Enes Kanter, 25, a Turkish basketball player in the NBA, stands for our national anthem. He has been a staunch critic of his country’s own president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who seeks to transition Turkey from a democracy to an Islamic state. Kanter has called Erdogan “the Hitler of our century.” As a result, an arrest warrant has been issued in Turkey for Kanter. Meanwhile, his father was arrested by the government despite having disowned his son for his “radical” political views.

While Kanter longs for the right to be able to criticize his own government in his own country without penalty for doing so, he recognizes he is free to criticize any government, including ours, in America because of the flag spotlighted prior to all NBA games.

In another part of the world not known for its democratic values – the Middle East – Israeli Tal Flicker won the gold at the Grand Slam judo competition being held in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. But as he took the platform along with the second- and third-place winners, the event’s Arab organizers refused to play Israel’s national anthem. Undeterred by organizers’ lack of protocol in allowing politics to override what was to be a nonpolitical event, Flicker sang the Israeli anthem on his own. What he did took courage; what NFL kneelers on Sunday do during their protest does not.

We will undoubtedly witness yet another spineless act dishonoring our flag by two NFL teams competing on Nov. 21. The Oakland Raiders will play the Houston Texans in Mexico City. These teams will, in all probability, continue their kneeling campaign as our anthem is played. However, they will most assuredly stand for the Mexican anthem that immediately follows. While social injustice and corruption run rampant in Mexico, its citizens still respect their flag. Thus, NFL players kneeling during the Mexican anthem would risk physical harm by protesting. Count on the NFL’s fly-by-night human rights activists opting not to put their personal safety at risk. Ironically, as the kneelers disrespect our flag in Mexico City, Americans in uniform around the world will courageously be risking their lives to protect the kneelers’ right to protest.

These players also hypocritically ignore a problem to which they contribute. Children raised in fatherless homes are much more likely to engage in criminal activity than those raised in two-parent homes. Yet several players are guilty of fathering numerous children from many different women. For example, former NFLer Travis Henry fathered nine children from nine different women. It is evident they willy-nilly exercise a body part off the field, content to leave others to care for the object of their irresponsible actions.

These kneelers, living within their ivory towers, detached from reality, have no handle on mainstream America’s pulse – as the backlash from their usually loyal fans indicates. While we are an imperfect nation, we are still a nation in which most recognize the equality of all. Those who do also recognize our flag and anthem demand respect. Thus, NFL kneelers foolishly create an issue where none need exist. By doing so, they also detract from their supposed cause – one apparently lasting no longer than the duration of the anthem, as evidenced by the absence of any collective NFL effort to initiate a more meaningful course of action off the field.

What was done in disrespecting disabled Navy veteran John Wells for taking a personal stand against the NFL’s lack of respect for our flag demonstrates just how far out of touch these highly-paid prima donnas are with the rest of our society.

One only wishes each Sunday it were possible for every NFL team to lose. After all, we have lost a lot by virtue of these kneelers’ outrageous behavior – behavior, sadly, that leaves American patriotism with a black eye!

A version of this piece also appeared on Contributor Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of “Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields,” “Living the Juche Lie: North Korea’s Kim Dynasty” and “Doomsday: Iran–The Clock is Ticking.” He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.

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