Kaepernick: An Anathema to the Lombardi Culture

Blogger’s Note: In a 2015 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Former Iran hostage and United States Marine Corps (USMC) Sgt. Ricky Sickmann, would recall how hearing audio tapes of the 1980 Super Bowl between the Los Angeles Rams and the Pittsburg Steelers lifted the morale of 52 Americans Iran kept captive for 444 days.

“Even though you’re 10,000 miles away, it brought us a small token of home…It brought back wonderful memories…it kept me alive.”

I wonder how Colin Kaepernick’s protest of kneeling during the National Anthem would have impacted the Iranian Hostages morale? The propaganda value and diplomatic leverage it would have given the Ayatollah Khomeini during the Iranian Hostage Crisis? 

No doubt the radical Islam-sympathetic Aljazeera and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) social media are weighing in on Kaepernick’s ill-advised choice of protest as part of their campaign to weaken America’s moral fiber.  From this perspective, one can make a case that Kaepernick is a National Security risk, and that the National Football League (NFL) is culpable in allowing him to do it. 

USMC Colonel (retired) Jeffrey Powers recently summed up how Kaepernick’s protest affects America’s military and first responder families’ morale in an open letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. In this post, I:

  • Publish Col. Power’s letter with his permission; and
  • Make a case that standing for the National Anthem is part of a professional code of conduct, as well as the NFL culture, that doesn’t infringe upon a player’s First Amendment Rights.

Col. Powers says much better than I, why standing during the National Anthem is the responsible thing to do:

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Not Standing during National Anthem

United States Marine Corps Sgt Garrett Mongrella, told Col Jeffrey Powers he looked forward to the New York Giants were going to the Super Bowl. He never got to see it.
As with Iranian Hostage and Former USMC Sgt. Ricky Sickmann, the Super Bowl brought USMC Sgt. Garrett Mongrella a “small token of home…and  wonderful memories during Desert Storm. He told Col Jeffrey Powers that he looked forward to the New York Giants going to the Super Bowl. Unlike Sgt. Sickmann, Sgt Mongrella, never got to see, or hear, it.

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Commissioner,

I’ve been a season pass holder at Yankee Stadium, Yale Bowl and Giants Stadium.

I missed the ’90-’91 season because I was with a battalion of Marines in Desert Storm. Fourteen of my wonderful Marines returned home with the American Flag draped across their lifeless bodies. My last conversation with one of them, Sgt Garrett Mongrella, was about how our Giants were going to the Super Bowl. He never got to see it.

Many friends, Marines, and Special Forces Soldiers who worked with, or for, me through the years returned home with the American Flag draped over their coffins. Now I watch multi millionaire athletes who never did anything in their lives but play a game, disrespect what brave Americans fought and died for. They are essentially spitting in the faces and on the graves of real men; men who have actually done something for this country beside playing with a ball and believing they’re something special!

They’re not! My Marines and Soldiers were!

You are complicit in this!

You’ll fine players for large and small infractions, but you lack the moral courage and respect for our Nation and the fallen to put an immediate stop to this. Yes, I know, it’s their 1st Amendment right to behave in such a despicable manner. What would happen if they came out and disrespected you or the refs publicly?

I observed a player getting a personal foul for twerking in the end zone after scoring. I guess that’s much worse than disrespecting the flag and our National Anthem. Hmmmmm, isn’t it his 1st Amendment right to express himself like an idiot in the end zone?

Why is taunting not allowed, yet taunting America is OK? You fine players for wearing 9-11 commemorative shoes, yet you allow scum on the sidelines to sit, kneel or pump their pathetic fist in the air.

They are so deprived with their multimillion dollar contracts for playing a freaking game! You condone it all by your refusal to act. You’re just as bad and disgusting as they are. I hope Americans boycott any sponsor who supports that rabble you call the NFL. I hope they turn off the TV when any team that allowed this disrespect to occur, without consequence, on the sidelines.

Legends and heroes do NOT wear shoulder pads. They wear body armor and carry rifles.

They make minimum wage and spend months and years away from their families. They don’t do it for an hour on Sunday. They do it 24/7, often with lead, not footballs, coming in their direction.

They watch their brothers carted off in pieces not on a gurney to get their knee iced. They don’t even have ice! Many don’t have legs or arms. Some wear blue and risk their lives daily on the streets of America. They wear fire helmets and go upstairs into the fire rather than down to safety.

On 9-11, hundreds vanished. They are the heroes.

I hope that your high paid protesting pretty boys and you look in that mirror when you shave tomorrow and see what you really are, legends in your own minds. You need to hit the road and take those worms with you!

Time to change the channel.

Col Jeffrey A Powers USMC (ret)

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With That First Amendment Right, Comes Responsibility and Accountability

Lombardi: Football is like life, it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work sacrifice, dedication and RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY." (Photo by Ken Fager, FLICKr photos)
Lombardi: Football is like life, it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY.” (Photo by Ken Fager, FLICKr photos)

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s insipid position that the NFL encourages players to be respectful with the caveat that “Players have a platform, and it’s his (Kaepernick’s) right to do that,” is not only hypocritical, as COL Powers astutely notes, but it’s taints the NFL culture.

That iconic figure for which the Super Bowl Trophy is named, Vince Lombardi, emphasized respect for police and military when he said, “Football is like life, it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY.”

During the racial unrest and tumultuous social upheaval of the 60s, Lombardi not only broke down racial barriers on the football field, but had expectations of how his players should conduct themselves off the field. He had unambiguous ideas for how activists should behave:

“It is becoming increasingly difficult to be tolerant of a society who has sympathy only for the misfits, only for the maladjusted, only for the criminal, only for the loser,” he said. “Have sympathy for them, help them, but I think it is also time for all of us to stand up for, and to cheer for, the doer, the achiever, one who recognizes a problem and does something about it, one who looks at something extra to do for his country, the winner, the leader!”

Mr. Goodell, standup for the doers, the achievers, those Americans that Colin Kaepernick and other malcontents refuse to honor. Heroes that include former Arizona Cardinal Player Pat Tillman, who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Make it part of the NFL job description to stand for the National Anthem.

And to Kaepernick, I recommend you listen to COL Powers and do what Mr. Goodell lacks the guts to tell you–be a man! Empathize with the plight of young black males, but don’t enable Black LIves Matters in their knee-jerk conclusion that institutional racism is the cause of their woes. Accept the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office’s offer to participate and observe police training. Perhaps ride along with the police in inner cities; visit youth groups operated by Interfaith ministries and community volunteers; use that platform your privileged to have responsibly, as former NFL Great Jim Brown did when he established the Amer I Can Foundation. Most important, apologize to our Police, Firefighters, Military, and Nation for your insolent behavior. Any child can protest in a temper-tantrum manner, but it takes a man to humble himself and make amends.

Mr. Goodell, a policy requiring all NFL personnel to stand does not infringe upon their First Amendment Right. It’s part of a professional code of conduct that, as COL Powers so shrewdly observes, the NFL already expects from its players toward referees, opposing teams, and fans. Is it too much to ask that  players behave accordingly for two minutes to honor America’s first responders, the Armed Services, Gold Star Parents, and the orphans whose parents gave all so that all of us can peacefully assemble to include watching a football game?

Such a policy is not only appropriate, but it helps misguided souls like Kaepernick to channel his protests into venues where, to paraphrase Lombardi again, he can understand the problem, and actually be a leader who does something extra for his country. It also keeps the misfits, losers, and malcontents, like BLM that accomplishes nothing but incite violence, from contaminating the NFL culture.

COL Powers’ letter has gone viral. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to feel the groundswell it’s generating among the Military Community.  I, and I suspect the majority of the military family, have no qualms about turning the channel or withdrawing from the NFL market when it stops respecting us.  As fans we know that any NFL team can win on any given Sunday,  but as service members, we know the reality that for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, like Cpl. Pat Tillman and Sgt. Garrett Mongrella did, there are no more Sundays.

Mr. Goodell, do the honorable thing, the right thing, the Lombardi thing. Make it part of the NFL professional code of conduct to stand, and be reverent, during the National Anthem. I think Vince Lombardi would agree with COL Powers that the police, firefighters, soldiers, airmen and Marines who served this country are the doers, the achievers, the ones who actually recognize the Nation’s problems and are doing something about it; not the maladjusted Kaepernick. It’s time to stop tolerating him, and to stand up for our real learders during the National Anthem, and cheer for them at it’s conclusion.

And for those young athletes, with no real life experience, emulating or thinking of mimicking Kaepernick’s protest, I  leave you food for thought. What Kaepernick is doing is cowardly. It takes no guts to exercise your 1st Amendment Right within the secure confines of a sporting event, but it requires tremendous courage to put one’s life on the line to preserve that Right.

Let’s set the record straight, Kaepernick is abusing and squandering his First Amendment privilege, he’s not exercising it.

Mr. Goodell, protect America’s Game, the NFL Culture. Teach these “multi millionaire athletes who never did anything in their lives but play a game” that with their First Amendment Right, comes responsibility, and accountability, to responsibly exercise this privilege.

words-mean-nothing
The Cowardly Act of Abusing Your First Amendment. It’s cowardly to abuse and squander your First Amendment Right as Colin Kaepernick does when kneeling for the National Anthem (Center photo/Flickr photo) . But it takes tremendous courage to fight, and be willing to die to preserve it, as Cpl. Pat Tillman, the late Arizona Cardinal NFL football star did when he walked away from a multi-million dollar contract to serve his Country (left/FLICKr Photo by FLICKR Image by lady_lbrty); and COL (Retired) Powers’ Marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors did when they returned home in American Flag Draped coffins (Right Flicker Photo by Tami Silicio)

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End Note: For those interested, here is the List of the NFL’s 32 Major Sponsors  to whom you can contact to express your concern with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s inaction.

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