Tags: nfl | national anthem | michael bennett | marshawn lynch | colin kaepernick

NFL's Lynch, Bennett Sit for National Anthem Like Kaepernick

Image: NFL's Lynch, Bennett Sit for National Anthem Like Kaepernick
Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (24) sits during the national anthem prior to an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Arizona. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

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Monday, 14 August 2017 02:07 PM Current | Bio | Archive

We are less than a month away from the NFL’s opening weekend and it appears that troubling chinks in the NFL’s fiercely protected image armor are already appearing.

For anyone who thought that the controversy surrounding NFL players electing to kneel or sit during the playing of our national anthem was but a blip on the radar in 2016 and that the storm’s presumable passage was directly attributable to Colin Kaepernick’s inability to find employment, well, you would be incorrect.

During preseason contests this past week, Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett chose to sit during the anthem, while Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch curiously decided to sit and munch on a banana during the playing of Francis Scott Key’s poem.

The NFL — a professional sports league that prides itself on protecting its brand — has made a cottage industry out of ignoring, or rewarding the reprehensible acts of its stars. From vehicular manslaughter, to running a dogfighting ring, to rape, to domestic violence, the NFL always seems to find a home for its wayward employees … as long as they are still capable of winning games and filling stadiums.

Noted sports author John Feinstein recently penned a piece in The Washington Post where he appropriately called out NFL franchise ownership for seemingly ignoring the criminality and aberrant behavior of their practitioners. The bottom line is always green. And Feinstein’s point is well taken. But the central theme was not the a simple critique of the hiring practices of wealthy team owners, it was that the 32 franchise owners — 31 of which are white males — were “cowards” for not signing a polarizing backup quarterback like Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick has been widely vilified and martyred by competing special interest groups. Kaepernick is also a perfect example of “The American Dream,” a gifted athlete provided an opportunity that he seized and converted into a $126 million dollar contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2014.

And for those who sense the irony in Kaepernick’s martyrdom, he is a naked opportunist who suddenly found activism when his talents and skills had eroded, or been exposed, to the extent that he no longer deserved first team or star status in the NFL.

It is a bit more complicated than that.

For those of us who detest the movement Kaepernick birthed that supposedly protests police brutality by remaining on one’s backside during moments that require the somber tribute of remaining on one’s feet, his actions can be viewed as attention-seeking and are illegitimate in the sense that he is conducting his “protests” on company time, while representing an NFL franchise, and the NFL.

Ask any erstwhile student enrolled in law school and they’ll properly advise you on the protected free matters that simply do not attach to Kaepernick’s actions and the reticence to sign him by NFL owners. Free speech is protected from government incursions into same. The fact that a corporation elects not to hire you for fear that your inappropriate actions while representing their product might tarnish their brand is not an abridging of free speech. I am comfortable stating that fact without first conferring with Professor Dershowitz.

No one cares if Kap elects to kneel or plug his ears with his fingers anytime the mellifluous stylings and dulcet tones of a Star-Spangled Banner rendition can be heard. But please don’t mix your politics with my football. Watching the Academy Awards, reading a Sports Illustrated article, and tuning in to ESPN have become such maddening pursuits of late, as the Left seeks to inculcate viewers and readers with their “protests” and world view at damn near every turn.

Enough.

And as apoplectic and bellicose as the public figures who have denounced the NFL for not providing Kaepernick a job have been, it doesn’t change the fact that he is a difficult guy to portray as a victim.

Who can forget his pathetic attempts to explain his choice of footwear during preseason camp last summer? Recall the offensive “cops depicted as pigs” motif adorning the socks he selected for television cameras? As a 25-year law enforcement professional, I struggle to sense the appropriateness and whether Kap really expects us to believe it was simply a calling out of “rogue cops.”

Kaepernick is also as hypocritical as many on the left when he elects to wear a shirt with Marxist dictator Fidel Castro on it last November and gets grilled by a Miami Herald reporter for same. Is the irony lost on anyone that the guy protesting oppression finds common cause with the Cuban despot? The jokes simply write themselves.

Nope, I certainly won’t cry a river for Colin Kaepernick’s current unemployment status. One of my ancestors was a sergeant in the New York State Militia and fought at Gettysburg to help free the slaves. Another proudly served as commander of a company of brave colored engineers in Korea before the U.S. Armed Forces were fully integrated by Harry Truman’s Executive Order 9981. And I spent many years within inner-city communities as a law enforcement professional and youth basketball coach, doing my part to make those communities safer, while mentoring its youth.

So the flag my ancestors served under and the anthem we acknowledge as a tribute to their bravery and courage are more than a rectangle of colored cloth and a melodious ode to patriotism. They honor those who paved the way for the America we all enjoy today, and for the previously unfathomable opportunities that have been afforded to Colin Kaepernick. 

James A. Gagliano is a 1987 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Following his service as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army, he entered the FBI, serving in a myriad of positions in the investigative, tactical resolution (SWAT), undercover, diplomatic and executive management realms. He was a member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) and has posted to assignments in Afghanistan, Mexico City, and parts of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. He retired in December of 2015 from the FBI’s New York City Office. He currently serves as a Law Enforcement Analyst for CNN, provides Leadership consultation for corporate clients of the Thayer Leader Development Group (TLDG) at his alma mater, and instructs undergraduates at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, where he earned an M.P.S. in Homeland Security and Criminal Justice Leadership in 2016. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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JamesAGagliano
Kaepernick has been widely vilified and martyred by competing special interest groups.
nfl, national anthem, michael bennett, marshawn lynch, colin kaepernick
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2017-07-14
Monday, 14 August 2017 02:07 PM
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