*Disclaimer: This article first appeared as an opinion piece on Brothers Before Others and was shared with Law Enforcement Today. The below opinion piece solely represents the opinion of the writer and does not, by proxy, reflect the opinion of individual members or the collective belief of Brothers Before Others Inc. as a whole*
I’ve stayed quiet all season. I’ve watched as police officer after police officer flocked back to the NFL as though history had been rewritten; history that was no more than days ago, in some cases. I’ve watched as police officers posed with their families, grinning ear to ear at tailgates, stadium tours, autograph signings and from their seats at games. I’ve watched police officers debate like school girls on virtually every form of social media over who’s team was better. I’ve watched as police officer after police officer seemingly forgot. Nothing to see here. No apology needed. Never did anything to me.
But, I remember.
I remember December 2014 when five Saint Louis Rams players marched onto the field prior to their game against the Oakland Raiders in a “Hands Up/Don’t Shoot” pose, allegedly showing support for the ‘protestors’ in Ferguson. Despite supporting a debunked lie, empowering riotous behavior and stoking the flames of rage against the American police officer, those five players were neither fined by the NFL nor disciplined by their team, as they were simply exercising their “right to free speech”.
I remember February of 2016 where, on the national stage of Super Bowl Sunday, Beyonce and her crew of backup dancers paid homage, both on and off filed, to the Black Panthers; the same Black Panthers that had been well known for violence against police officers as far back as 1968, less than two full years following their founding, when Eldridge Cleaver led an ambush of the Oakland Police Department. The Black Panthers have also famously played a role in the murders of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
I remember July of 2016 when, long before they went ‘arm in arm’ to kneel for our National Anthem, members of the Dallas Cowboys marched onto their training facility field, arm in arm with Dallas Police Chief David Brown and family members of the the five Dallas area police officers who were assassinated that same month while protecting a protest march largely in protest OF law enforcement. Imagine that? The Cowboys also went so far as to have special helmet stickers made up and affixed to their helmets. Well, it seems THAT kind of free speech isn’t the protected kind. The NFL denied the Cowboys the right to wear the helmet stickers for their home opener (ironically against the Los Angeles Rams), citing “uniformity”.
I remember September of 2016 when, what was clearly a calculated move to save a sinking source of income, San Francisco 49’ers disenfranchised quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, decided to make a new career as a malcontented activist, kneeling for our National Anthem, mocking capitalism (the very same capitalism that had and still affords him a charmed life), and disrespecting law enforcement at seemingly every turn. That month, Kaepernick famously decided to sport socks depicting police officers as ‘pigs’, a long recognized association meant to demean law enforcement. He was also all over every form of social media, most times incoherently, ranting about social issues that, until HE suddenly decided they did, had never seemed to effect him. Ironic that this ‘moment of clarity’ coincided with no one needing his quarterback services anymore. But I’m sure that is all completely coincidental.
I remember October of that same year when, in an attempt to not be undone by Kaepernick, Washington Redskins receiver, DeSean Jackson, chose to wear cleats designed to appear as though they were wrapped in caution tape for his Week 4 game against the Cleveland Browns. Jackson claimed that he wore the cleats to “bring attention to police brutality in communities”.
The list goes on and on. So I won’t bore you more than I already have. But this is not just a list of affronts to the law enforcement community. This is a list of flagrant hypocrisy committed by spoiled, well-paid, privileged athletes. It’s almost amusing that the NFL would collectively have such a distaste for law enforcement, especially when you consider that they’ve AVERAGED 55 players arrested each year, dating as far back as 2000; and that’s only the arrests that have been reported. Below is a link detailing over 900 arrests, in date order, as reported by USA Today (a notoriously left-leaning publication). As you peruse this list of achievements, I want you to remember that these are the very same players who are sitting in judgement of the American police officer and an oppressive society that just happens to have paid them millions of dollars.
On the eve of the latest installment of the Felon Bowl, if you are someone who supports law enforcement or are active/retired sworn personnel, I want you to consider that the NFL has bet all their money on the fact that supporting law enforcement will cost them more dollars in their pockets than allowing law enforcement to be disrespected and misrepresented by their employees on company time. The NFL has bet all of their money that the law enforcement community, as a whole, is too passive and disjointed to take any kind of meaningful and cohesive stand; certainly too disorganized to take any kind of stand that would cost the league any sizable profit.
I am a father and a family man. As such, I understand the need for family time and for bonding with our children. I also understand the draw to nostalgic traditions. But I am also a police officer; a police officer with AT LEAST eight more years to go. I can not and will not support a tax-exempt billion dollar industry that has, by action or lack of action, directly contributed to the increased violence towards my coworkers and I. I will not expose my family to a game that has been hijacked and used as a political platform to drive people apart instead of entertainment meant to bring people together. I will not exhibit full-blown ‘Stockholm Syndrome” and support an entity that has directly hurt and disrespected my profession and my flag.
I am a family man; and my family includes my ‘blue family’; and, sometimes, family doesn’t see eye to eye, and that’s ok. But I am here to tell you that, if you support the NFL via viewership or actual dollars, you are abandoning your profession; and there’s no nice way of saying that. If it soothes your soul to say, “Never did nothing to me”, then so be it. But me?
I still remember.