NFL Players Association wants you to know they adore the military

The NFL Players Association – the union representing NFL players – released an ad recently that played on most TV game broadcasts yesterday.  The ad was an obvious response to those of us who take a dim view of players who disrespect the flag and the military by taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem.

The union wants us to know that we've got it all wrong, that the players absolutely adore the military.

How do we know?  Just listen to what they have to say.

I have no doubt that many NFL players have tremendous respect for the military and their service.  Even some of the protesters – misguided though they might be – may respect the flag and the armed forces.  Many NFL players say they have family members who have served and would never do anything to disrespect them or their service.

All of this is true.  But it is also true that it really doesn't matter that they believe that their protests don't disrespect the flag and the military.  Fifty million people or more think that's exactly what they're doing.  And with the way many of the NFL players have responded to criticism of their actions, they seem to have a childlike view of the First Amendment and what free speech really means.

Free speech does not mean not only that everyone must recognize your right to protest, but that you must support that protest as well.  Players expect us to love them for their protest, to admire them.  How else do you explain their response to criticism being that those who don't support them want to take away their First Amendment rights?  They are oblivious to how their taking a knee during the anthem disrespects the flag and military they purport to support.

Colin Kaepernick said in his statement after first taking a knee during the anthem last year that he couldn't stand and salute a flag that represents racism and oppression. 

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Any rational American hearing or reading those words would come to the conclusion that Mr. Kaepernick does not respect the flag and, by extension, the men who fight and serve under it.  Kaepernick believes that anyone who defends that flag – even those who gave their lives for it – are fighting for oppression and racism.  How much more disrespectful of the military can you get?

By definition, the players protesting today are following Kaepernick's example.  If they don't agree with what he said, why are they imitating the way he protested?  Can't they find a less disrespectful way to make their voices heard?

It's time for those players who genuinely love and support our flag and our military to start pressuring the protesters to end this idiocy.  The NFLPA may be trying to play damage control with ads like this.  But until they come out firmly and unequivocally against protests that disrespect the flag and the military, their protestations that they honor the military will ring hollow.

The NFL Players Association – the union representing NFL players – released an ad recently that played on most TV game broadcasts yesterday.  The ad was an obvious response to those of us who take a dim view of players who disrespect the flag and the military by taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem.

The union wants us to know that we've got it all wrong, that the players absolutely adore the military.

How do we know?  Just listen to what they have to say.

I have no doubt that many NFL players have tremendous respect for the military and their service.  Even some of the protesters – misguided though they might be – may respect the flag and the armed forces.  Many NFL players say they have family members who have served and would never do anything to disrespect them or their service.

All of this is true.  But it is also true that it really doesn't matter that they believe that their protests don't disrespect the flag and the military.  Fifty million people or more think that's exactly what they're doing.  And with the way many of the NFL players have responded to criticism of their actions, they seem to have a childlike view of the First Amendment and what free speech really means.

Free speech does not mean not only that everyone must recognize your right to protest, but that you must support that protest as well.  Players expect us to love them for their protest, to admire them.  How else do you explain their response to criticism being that those who don't support them want to take away their First Amendment rights?  They are oblivious to how their taking a knee during the anthem disrespects the flag and military they purport to support.

Colin Kaepernick said in his statement after first taking a knee during the anthem last year that he couldn't stand and salute a flag that represents racism and oppression. 

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Any rational American hearing or reading those words would come to the conclusion that Mr. Kaepernick does not respect the flag and, by extension, the men who fight and serve under it.  Kaepernick believes that anyone who defends that flag – even those who gave their lives for it – are fighting for oppression and racism.  How much more disrespectful of the military can you get?

By definition, the players protesting today are following Kaepernick's example.  If they don't agree with what he said, why are they imitating the way he protested?  Can't they find a less disrespectful way to make their voices heard?

It's time for those players who genuinely love and support our flag and our military to start pressuring the protesters to end this idiocy.  The NFLPA may be trying to play damage control with ads like this.  But until they come out firmly and unequivocally against protests that disrespect the flag and the military, their protestations that they honor the military will ring hollow.

RECENT VIDEOS