NFL Protests, My Old Man The General, Etc, et al

Not sure where to put this. I have argued with my Dad, a retired Army general, about the NFL protests started by Colin Kaepernick for awhile now. He’s a lifelong fan, but now refuses to watch the games, because he claims that (along with fucking Trump) that they don’t deserve the game, it’s a priveldge, should be fired, etc. Except I’ve caught him watching the games too, Thanksgiving and Christmas…this after lecturing me that the NFL is suffering because of guys like him that have staged online veterans counter protest groups.

Frankly I tire of this issue with him because he’s wrong, he doesn’t understand the plight of minorities to this day, doesn’t seem to get that it’s free speech, etc.

He sent me this email and this is my response. Remember that this is a highly educated, West Point grad Engineer with a degree in science from Illinois. My mind still boggles and I will be very curious as to his reply.

His email (copied) to me: “NFL FACTS”

*In 2012 the NFL had an issue with Tim Tebow kneeling for each game to pray, they also had an issue with Tebow wearing John 3:16 as part of his eye-black to avoid glare, and made him take it off.

In 2013 the NFL fined Brandon Marshall for wearing green cleats to raise awareness for people with mental health disorders.

In 2014 Robert Griffin III (RG3) entered a post-game press conference wearing a shirt that said “Know Jesus Know Peace” but was forced to turn it inside out by an NFL uniform inspector before speaking at the podium.

In 2015 DeAngelo Williams was fined for wearing “Find the Cure” eye black for breast cancer awareness.

In 2015 William Gay was fined for wearing purple cleats to raise awareness for domestic violence. (Not that the NFL has a domestic violence problem…)

In 2016 the NFL prevented the Dallas Cowboys from wearing a decal on their helmet in honor of 5 Dallas Police officers killed in the line of duty.

In 2016 the NFL threatened to fine players who wanted to wear cleats to commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

So tell me again how the NFL supports free speech and expression, all of a sudden…

It seems quite clear based on these facts that the NFL has taken a position against any action by NFL players demonstrating RESPECT for any issue: For God, social causes such as mental health, cancer, domestic violence, for cops killed arbitrarily for being cops, for the Memory of 9/11…

But, they will allow demonstrations of DISRESPECT for our National Flag, our National Anthem, for America, and for the American People, if it will help mollify a particular Group and its supporters (such as BLM, and other leftists)

That is who and what the NFL has shown itself to be.

Pass this post along to all your friends and family. Honor our military, too many of whom have come home with the American Flag draped over their coffin.

My reply (how did I do?)


I’m sorry but the logic doesn’t follow here. Yes, many players have personal “crusades” and “causes” that they donate money, time and attention to, and, pay fines for when they violate NFL uniform rules. I think the movement with the Anthem, started by Colin Kaepernick (whom still doesn’t have a job because he’s been blackballed by the league…and is mediocre), was just a different (and apparently more effective) way to grab attention to a serious issue of race, that still exists in the 21st century, though you’d think it wouldn’t or shouldn’t be an issue anymore after everything we’ve been through with slavery, Jim Crow and the civil rights movement.

Police are STILL killing black people with little or no repurcussions, nor much in the way of a valid reason to do so. Police circle the wagons in defense of their fellow officers when these cloudy killings happen, many of which have video evidence to support that the police were in the wrong, or acted prematurely with deadly force when other options were available to them.

I understand you are a patriot whom has fought for his country and served a large portion of his life, and that is commendable, honorable, and worthy of respect.

But as this email mentions, the NFL seems to be saying that they don’t support free speech…until they do. Kneeling for the anthem in this case was NEVER INTENDED to disrespect the flag or our veterans. It was meant to draw attention to the ongoing plight of minorities that continues to plague our nation, even though we’re supposedly the “land of the free” (if you’re white, or rich, evidently). Veterans only TOOK this demonstration as a sign of disrespect. And then ran with it. If you ask any of these guys, they’ll tell you it was a means to an end…to draw attention to an ongoing problem, not to say that they hate America.

Remember when Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists in a “Black Panther” salute in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico? Can you not see the similarity here? Remember the outrage that those “niggers” DARED to cause after winning the 200m race? That’s what a lot of white people thought at the time, in the heart of the civil rights movement to boot. Uppity niggers is what whites thought at the time. How dare they, during that sacred anthem?

Have you ever once considered that the anthem has a very different meaning to people of color than to us? For hundreds of years, it meant slavery and discrimination. And it still does, to some extent, even if we don’t wish it to be so. We can’t handwave it away, nor should we condemn the free speech rights of people of color to express their dissatisfaction with 2017 race relations, even if they are relatively rich athletes. Most people of color live below the poverty line, it is them that they are drawing attention to. You can bring up all the welfare, etc arguments that you want, but your white “loser” son lives because of such programs right now because right now, I do not have another choice, and neither do many of them.

I thought you were a student of history. What about the treatment of Native Americans that continues to this day? Whereby they’re herded onto reservations, isolated from the world, in a land of deserts, casinos, alcohol and depression. Are they not worthy of our pity or compassion? We put them there collectively as a race of whites.

This is the issue in a nut. It’s not about the song, it’s about the perception of what it represents to different people. They are entitled to their perception, especially when their perception of America is colored (no pun) by the situations they are in, the history of what we, as whites, have done to them, and ultimately…yes, it is about free speech. Burning the flag, as reprehensible as many, including myself, might find it, is also free speech. It can’t all be good. The rights we have include all these things, just as it is your right to get mad about it, choose not to buy the NFL product or watch it, or whatever.

I love you Dad, and please believe me when I say that I am NOT a bleeding heart liberal. But I subsist on a combination of your generosity and state programs that many, many minorities also subsist on. The NFL protests are small potatoes compared to the other problems that still infest our society.**

I miss my father every day. I have missed him every day for over 28 years when he was taken way too young. If he was here I sure as hell wouldn’t waste time arguing over politics or Colin Kapernick.

You did the best you could. Probably his age and background will prevent him considering he’s wrong. But you couched it pretty well.

So ignore fundamental differences in opinion on basic human rights in the name of family harmony?

You know, I thought a lot about that while I was typing…my Dad is 76 with a history of heart issues, although through the miracles of modern medicine, he will probably outlive us all. But man…I don’t know. It’s hard for me as an unemployed, recovering alcoholic that’s dependent on my state’s programs (and his generosity) for my survival to listen to him drink his three double Sapphires and then rant to me this way about a product he has loved his entire life (and introduced me to) and for him to so single-mindedly latch onto this of all things. In his world standing for the anthem is a full stop event, as is the pledge of allegiance. He can’t seem to understand the hypocrisy in that, nor does he acknowledge the undercurrent of less advantaged people in this nation that don’t feel like he does. His argument, as usual (and he’s not wrong) is that “He earned it, he worked for it! Everyone else is lazy!”

This is the same guy that while he will admit to his own son’s alcoholism (me), he won’t admit he has an issue with booze (“I’ve earned it!”), nor will he acknowledge that alcohol is a drug…or prescriptions. Those are “medications”, not drugs. I see what you are saying, and I love my Dad very, very much, and admire and respect him. His intellect is literally unreal, but…he’s also so very, very set in his ways. My mom is an angel of a person but just shakes her head and sits idly by while Dad hoists himself on these petards. She won’t argue with him except behind his back because he’s one of those people that always tries to dominate the conversation with his “logic” (which can often be correct and inarguable) but on this issue, he’s just way off base. I’m probably going to let it go before it becomes a serious matter of contention, but it just sucks. It really sucks. Who in the fuck really believes that the “protests” (which were only worsened by our President…but my Dad thinks was “overdue” for these so-called pampered, rich athletes) were really about disrespecting our military veterans (of whom I am one and am related to several, including relatives buried at Arlington, FFS)? I guess I just don’t get becoming that closed-minded. I get what you are saying but still. Wrong is wrong.

Thanks. That was my hope, but once I receive the obligatory furious reply, I’ll post it and see what the old man thinks. He’s not a bad guy, at all. He’s just rich, white and locked into that Starving Artist ideal of what race relations are in this country because “I know Colin Powell, and he lifted himself up from poverty, etc”) and it’s true…he really does know Colin Powell. But that’s totally irrelevant.

Careful, don’t alienate your Dad. It sounds like he’s has the Trump virus. I am personally hoping people start getting well from that dreaded illness soon.
Seriously, you need your parents right now. You don’t have to sell your soul to just be agreeable. Write your opinions in a journal, if you have to vent them.
Like someone said upthread, I would give almost anything to spend time with my opinionated, hard-assed, Marine to the bone Daddy, again.
Careful, don’t burn your bridges.

All I will say is if kneeling is “disrespectful” to your dad’s service then he shouldn’t have wasted his time in the military because he doesn’t understand what truly makes America great.

I completely understand what you are saying. I’m not trying to create regrets here, but this is something out of left field with my old man that really caught me by surprise. Well, he’s also Catholic, but Italian, so I can forgive that part of his early programming, but this…well…I was surprised that I cannot have a regular discussion with him about this without him getting so damned worked up over it that it causes family strife. I don’t want that strife but I firmly believe that we should be learning something about ourselves and our beliefs throughout our entire life. Fuck, I was for the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, and now I wish I had never felt that way, It was a colossal mistake and failure or manipulation of government agencies, intelligence and American faith in government that has challenged Watergate for supremacy of government distrust, and that’s saying something. FFS I have a cousin that’s younger than me that served in both Bosnia and Iraq, and was severely injured in an IED attack. But question the auspices of the beginnings of the Iraq war? He won’t hear about it on the one hand, while he routinely self medicates with weed, coke and booze because the VA can’t seem to treat him properly…but don’t you dare mention the mission there, that’s sacrosanct! I will never understand this attitude. It’s the same with my Dad and Vietnam. He will openly weep over movies that emulate his experiences on his two tours over there, but question the origins of the war? Never! Just doing his duty! Those fellow soldiers did NOT die in vain! Their names are on the wall, you wouldn’t understand!

Eh, I wouldn’t go that far. My Dad’s parents were a product of the Great Depression AND “The Greatest Generation”. His Dad was an Infantry colonel in WWII and Korea (Chosin, too) and my Mom’s Dad was he same, but Air Force. Well, ARMY Air Force at first. Served in WWII, Korea AND Vietnam.

My Dad graduated from West Point in 1963, his next brother in 1965, then his next brother after that in 1974. They KNOW what service and dedication to country are, but in this instance, it’s misplaced.


Could you elaborate please (even though I’m getting the feeling it won’t be necessary because I have a general idea of what you’ll already say)?

I’ve lately started to rethink the common belief that family, especially parents, are automatically entitled to love and respect by sole dint of being related to you by blood and all that, no matter who they are as people and what your relationship in general is like. If OP were gay, and this discussion was about gay rights, I doubt this would’ve ever come up.

I have fairly unconventional views on this issue. While I understand why some players were kneeling (I don’t know if any still are), and also understand that it wasn’t intended as disrespect toward the flag, or the anthem, or especially the military, I do not support them kneeling. They are on the clock, working for their employer, and should do nothing during that time that is adverse to their business or employer. The NFL should have nipped this in the bud the first time Kaeperneck kneeled on the sideline. The NFL and each team should have demanded that all players stand for the national anthem and not use this time for their own personal crusades. They have the rest of the week for that. Protest all you want on your own time, but not when you are in uniform at the games.

Having said this, I see a very distinct divide on this issue. As far as I see, current and former military members, and their families, view the kneeling as disrespect, not as a social protest. I don’t agree with this conclusion, but that’s how they see it. Those who agree with the protests, and the message, can argue until they are blue in the face that it’s not about the anthem or military, but that’s not how it is perceived, and perception is kind of the point about protesting, isn’t it? I have friends who have severely curtailed their NFL viewing because of this issue, and it’s simply a fact that attendance and TV ratings are down.

But, as regarding the OP’s issue, I don’t see how you convince either side they are wrong. The OP isn’t going to understand his father’s position, and the father isn’t going to understand his son’s position. It’s like arguing two different arguments, talking past one another. I’d say just agree to let the issue go away.

You said you love and respect him. He doesn’t seem to be an evil or bad person. I wouldn’t advocate anyone turning a blind eye towards the behavior of someone who abuses them or was generally bad just because they are related. That does not appear to be the problem. But for some reason you feel the need to tell in great detail an old man grumbling at the tv that’s he’s wrong. My grandfather raised 5 children on his own during the depression when their mother died very young. He also didn’t believe in evolution or the moon landings (he was born it the 1880s). When Planet of the Apes came on the tv and he stormed out of the room cursing no one felt the need to lecture him or belittle his opinion. Sure we laughed about it to each other but there was no need to argue about it.

Life isn’t politics. Pendulums swing. You only get one father and he will be dead soon. Five years from now are you really going to give a shit what he thinks about Colin Kapernick?

Here’s his reply to my email.

*I will not debate you point for point. But what other large business or corporation in the USA is authorized to operate as a monopoly and further gets large Federal tax breaks annually but allows its players to thumb their noses at everything that military has fought for since the beginning of our republic for warped rational because they don’t want to deprive their players from expressing their own feelings when the league has already shown themselves to not allow such expressions when it didn’t bit into their warped since of right or wrong. Please tell me where I can find ANY explanation from a coherent group of players what they were kneeling for? I’m probably too close to the issue – I’ve seen too many super Americans, who were not millionaires, were not only white, black, yellow or whatever, receiving their final due in a coffin with the Stars and Stripes draped across as the only payment (other than a Purple Heart) for laying their life down for that flag. Tell me what kneeling does if the true reason of all these prima donna millionaires is to fight for black rights. Tell them to go get involved in their home towns and do something positive to change what we are doing now. I’m not for any person, regardless of color being “murdered” without justification by any police officer. However, look at the record of some (not all) that were portrayed as upstanding, citizens, getting ready to go to college, etc., etc. only to discover the reality is “you reap what you sow!” Was Tim Tebow denied free speech by the NFL? What about the others? And this list is BY FAR not the only examples. NFL – JUST BE CONSISTENT! The revenue and attendance is down once again – wonder why? If they now loose their Monopoly exemption and their Federal Tax rebates, let all the “former” millionaires kneel for all their worth!

Kaepernick is a big boy. He expressed himself and IF (that has been proven in his lawsuit) the league has blackballed him, my view is, so??? I wouldn’t hire someone who may have a major negative impact on my money bottom line for my team.*

I’ve pretty much come to this conclusion, for good or ill. It’s not an issue that really impacts my or my father’s life much, if at all. I’m going to let it go…Loach is right, life’s too short.

This all started over the holidays where he and I were arguing about this. My problem with his attitude is the same sentiment he expressed in his last email to me…BE CONSISTENT, DAD! You tell me you’re boycotting the games…until you get a few martinis in you when we’re over for the holidays and then you not only sit down and watch the games with my sons and I, you get actively interested in them and cheer on whomever you’re rooting for!

Anyway, upon further review, Loach’s ruling on the field of life stands.

It all depends. We’re talking about football players protesting by kneeling during the anthem, which isn’t the hill I’d choose to die on. It’s a bunch of millionaires making a gesture, not civil rights marchers having police dogs set on them.

And even when you agree with your relatives, political rants can get annoying. My grandfather, for example, loathed Reagan, and was convinced that he destroyed the country. I couldn’t stand the guy either, but there’s only so many times you can listen to “Reagan is the responsible for everything that’s wrong in our nation”. I was basically like, “Okay Pappap, whatever.” We still laugh about all of his rants about various things. (He was kind of a “Grampa Simpson” type when he’d get on a certain subject)

I do agree that family members are automatically entitled to love and/or respect. There are some relatives of mine that can just go fuck off and die. (But that has nothing to do with their political beliefs.)

The problem with your position and your dad’s position is that they both have an underlying assumption that there is one correct position on a topic with many different angles and very few absolutes.

Best you can do is to try to understand the other persons position and hope they can understand your position.

Your letter was fine, and I see you’re going to let it go, but I wouldn’t feel bad about trying to get through to him even if he is old. Don’t alienate your relatives, but he’s your father; you should be able to openly disagree with him sometimes instead of holding your tongue because he could be dead soon.

If you want to support Kopernick et al, there are certainly valid reasons to do so, but it’s pretty disingenuous to say that the kneeling during the anthem is not intended as disrespect for America (of which the flag is a symbol, and of which the military is made of people who feel it is worth putting their lives on the line to defend). He sees America as racist, so by not following the accepted form of respect during the anthem, he is showing his disrespect for a country he sees as racist. Condone his disrespect, understand it, support his right to it, but don’t deny it is what it clearly is.

Ask your Dad if he’d have stood for the Chinese or USSR anthem back in the day. AFAIK, military men are supposed do afford foreign anthems the same respect as their own.