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As the NFL Turns
By Susan Olling

I’ve been trying  to ignore the continuing soap opera involving NFL players, the NFL Commissioner, and the knee thing.  However, this drama seems to be everywhere.  Since it’s been hard to ignore, here are my two cents.
It seems that somewhere in the mists of time, the playing of Mr. Key’s little  ditty, along with standing while it’s played, became customary at sporting events in this country.  These games, as one local commentator recently said, are not “patriotic events”.  Nope, they’re simply entertainment, just like movies, plays, or concerts.  I shouldn’t be surprised that the reactions about all this “taking a knee” business have shown that there’s no gray area here.  Either people were burning jerseys or season tickets or, and this seemed to come from some veterans, the players have the right to do what they’re doing.  By the way, when all this started last year, one of MoCo’s high school football teams played a game at the last “rural” school in our little  county  (rural but not western Ohio  rural).  The visiting players assumed the knee-taking position during the anthem, much to the dismay of the home team’s fans.  The visiting fans apparently had no problem with what their players did.  Have no idea whether any of the county teams have been “protesting” this season.   This knee-taking behavior seems to have become an infection, as it crossed over to at least one college campus (and didn’t involve football players).  The students and faculty at one of the D.C. law schools did the knee thing and later linked arms to protest a visit from the Attorney General.
It’s still very hard to have sympathy for adults who are paid mints of money just to play football.  How many of them simply went through the farm system, AKA college football, without getting a degree of any sort?   Given Mr. Commissioner’s tepid response to the domestic abuse messes that swirled around the NFL several years ago, his initial response to the opinions of  the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW that started all this a few weeks ago  seemed a bit excessive.   Let’s see, domestic abuse vs. taking knee during the National Anthem.  These aren’t even comparable.  One’s a crime, one isn’t.
It appears that at least one retired NFL player wasn’t happy with former teammates who did the knee thing.  You can tell time has passed when someone says that something wouldn’t have happened during their time.  Why would these younger players listen to an old guy, no matter how many Super Bowl rings he has?   He was also surprised that the coach let players protest.  Oh my, why not ask him?  Not that Mr. Coach needs to explain himself to a former player.
Where are our priorities?  There are more important things going on right now than what NFL players are doing.  Or not doing.  Hurricanes have done quite a bit of damage to parts of the U.S. mainland.  Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were destroyed by Hurricane Maria.  The people who live on those islands are U.S. citizens and should be getting the same help that the folks in Florida and southeast Texas have been getting.  We haven’t heard much about what’s going on in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but there was a gathering on the Capitol grounds on 11 Oct protesting the lack of aid to Puerto Rico.  A majority of that island is still without power, and there are shortages of food and potable water.   Some U.S. pharmaceutical companies, including some big pharma, have drug manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico.  Most of the facilities were apparently not badly damaged.  However, impassable roads and shortages of food and water mean that many employees can’t get to work.   Over fifty people were killed in Las Vegas.  Wildfires in California have destroyed entire neighborhoods (and the worst part of their fire season has just gotten started).  Football, whether it’s pre-NFL-farm-team, NFL-farm-team, or the NFL,  is really pretty irrelevant.
Just when I thought this soap opera couldn’t get any better, it has.  Mr. NFL Commissioner reportedly sent a letter to all thirty-two team owners asking them to make sure all players stand during the anthem.  I wonder if the letter contained suggestions for the owners on making this happen.  A proposal will reportedly be introduced at the next owners’ meeting requiring all players to stand during the anthem.   One owner has apparently warned recalcitrant players if they don’t stand to attention during the anthem, they’ll be benched.   I may watch whatever games are on  this Sunday just long enough to see what happens.  Could be great entertainment.

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