By Greg Jackson
Roses are red and tulips are swell, if professional football players protest during the anthem, I will protest the NFL.
Before anyone gets started with the argument that NFL players have a constitutional right to protest, let me say I agree. What I think is tacky, however, is when and how they opt to protest; during the playing of our national anthem and the presentation of our nation’s flag. One such protest, in particular, did not sit well with me, which was when the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens kneeled during the playing of our national anthem while in England, but they stood for the British Anthem “God Save the Queen.” When asked why they kneeled on British soil, many said it was to protest a history of racial inequality and police brutality in the United States, which confused me somewhat. Now, I know that we have moved on and sort of agreed to let bygones-be-bygones, but if I read my history books correctly, the British facilitated the slave trade that led to the brutal treatment and deaths of hundreds of thousands of Africans. Heck, even now the British are having a hissy fit over the mention of a Black man, Ibris Elba, being the next James Bond. If NFL players were so socially tuned in and wanted to bring attention to past and future ills, England would have been the perfect place to take a stand, or a knee, for NFL players to protest the treatment of Black people, but they did not. Reason being, in my opinion, is that they have no idea what they are really protesting or why, and here is some proof.
A week ago, six NFL players took a knee, purportedly following the original intent to bring awareness to police brutality against Black people. Then, after President Trump made a comment that NFL owners should fire employees who disrespect our flag, all of a sudden over two hundred players felt it necessary to take a knee. Nothing changed between the seven days except President Trump “insulted” an athlete or two, and people suddenly felt hitting their knees was the thing to do. This gives a clear impression that their protest was not socially based, but emotionally based and had very little, if anything to do with social justice or social inequality, but rather they were just supporting their teammates over the country. To many Americans that order of priority is God, family, country. But to professional athletes, in their privileged false reality, it appears that their order of priority is teammates, teammates, then family and friends.
Even if you ask people supporting the “protest”, they are equally confused about why it is taking place. Some say they are protesting racial injustice, others say they are exercising freedom of speech, others say they are just supporting their teammates, and some state it is because they wish Trump wasn’t President. Well, at least one sport has outwardly condemned the flag protest, NASCAR, and another sport, NBA, has found it necessary to outline for its players their expectation that players will respect our country by respecting the playing of our National Anthem and presentation of our flag.
Putting aside that NFL players are using their employer’s television platform, which is made possible through billion dollar advertising contracts and sponsorship dollars, to stage a political protest that not everyone appreciates, I want to reiterate that the players do have a right to peacefully protest whenever and however they like. But, as a customer, as an American, I also have a right to voice my disapproval of the timing of their protest, during the presentation of our flag. I can also exercise my right to turn off my television during NFL games, especially since NFL players, unlike NASCAR and quite possibly NBA, feel it is okay to disregard our feelings and disrespect our flag — in my humble opinion.
Greg Jackson is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida, a military veteran, current Orange County District 2 Representative on the Board of Zoning Adjustments, and General Counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency. He has been as an active member of the Central Florida community for nearly 20 years. He was most recently a candidate for the Florida House District 45 seat.