Letter: Honesty key in NFL flag debate


The NFL issue rages on.

Have the people of The United States lived up to their claimed heritage of equality for all?

Each of us has to answer that. Is that an issue of the heritage or the hypocrisy of some of the people? Yes, there are sins in our history. There are sins in our streets today. We know about that too and it’s up to each of us to be honest with ourselves and either live our claimed heritage or reject it at our own peril.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and a lot of the NFL, however, are sitting in locker rooms and disrespecting our national anthem in protest.

Really? Comes then a question: How does protesting the national anthem address the sins in our streets? We see priests, ministers, rabbis and mullahs as well as lay men and women in the streets trying to stop the hatred. They live mostly on stipend.

The NFL makes dishonest gestures about these problems and disrespects our nation by sitting in their locker rooms during the national anthem in a silly, irrelevant hypocritical “protest.” These, however, are very highly paid and compensated. So who are these to protest the sins and why are they not in the streets where the sin is?

Consider that it was Goodell’s NFL that had to have something on the order of $60 million from the Department of Defense to parade around a really big flag and put a bunch of veterans on display as a “thank you” celebration for the military.

A lot of us also remember the fecal barrages and the open resentment and hatred directed at us when we returned from Vietnam. It is also not at all lost on us that the people who did those things were at least honest about what they were doing. That’s more than can be said of Goodell and his league.

Goodell and the NFL need to be very much aware that we’ll countenance neither the apology of an innocent nor the gratitude of a liar.

What they’re doing as regards the national anthem suggests that they are apparently less interested in trying to change things in the streets than in promoting themselves.

Wrong? They don’t go into the streets and try to intervene. They’re too valuable in the fantasy world of “professional sports.” They condemn the nation and all that is good in it because there is also bad in it and they can’t be bothered to go address those problems. They just sit it out in the locker room, disrespect the nation that has provided them opportunities and make self-righteous comments to the media: The essence of hypocrisy.

They should stay in their locker rooms during the national anthem.

The NFL is entertainment. Losses are counted in dollars. The losses with the military, law enforcement and the fire services are counted in families with a lot of tears, folded flags, shiny medals and “the gratitude of the nation.”

The NFL is simply entertainment; really big entertainment, but at best irrelevant. Minimum wage ought to cover things.

The firemen, professional and volunteer, who lived and died on the fire lines out here in the Pacific Northwest throughout this disastrous fire season, battling an enemy that doesn’t take prisoners, are real national heroes and the quintessential “championship teams.”

The soldier struggling to regain his independence with no legs and trying to deal with the nightmares of “winning” a gunfight knowing that some of his friends did not is a national hero. The priests, ministers, rabbis and mullahs who stand to confront the hatred and violence in our streets are the national heroes. The police officers who face the real probability of being killed any day of the week trying to protect the citizen in the streets, are national heroes.  The NFL entertainers and their “ringmasters” should stay off stage while The national anthem is being played. The anthem and the heritage is a lot bigger and more important than the totality of the NFL.

The families who have the folded flags and shiny medals instead of their now dead loved ones, whether law enforcement, military and fire service and other disaster responders, have considerably more to say about things than does anyone in the NFL. At least respect these.

Consider, for a moment, that it doesn’t really matter if there is another season or a Super Bowl to finish this one. Those who serve this republic, and the republic, warts and all, are what is celebrated in our traditions. The entertainers should stay in their locker rooms while our national anthem is being played.

If they are going to be on the sidelines, however, standing in respect is expected. Failing that, it’s one knee before flag and nation and two knees before God.

Joe Bullard