Last night, a group of Cleveland Browns players knelt in a circle during the national anthem and held a group prayer in solidarity with Michael Bennett, Marshawn Lynch, and other NFL players who have staged similar protests to call attention to the racial inequality that is plaguing the United States. Neo-Nazi-driven violence in Charlottesville has sparked a new wave of protests in the NFL, and white players are starting to join in.
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Just like Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protests last year, these protests have nothing to do with the military, and in fact multiple Browns went out of their way to emphasize that they respect the military. Despite this, you would expect the use of a tactic commonly deployed against players standing up for racial justice—claims that sitting through the national anthem is somehow disrespectful to, and cheapens the sacrifices made by, The Troops—and indeed, the takes are flowing.
Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill wrote a Facebook post this morning, admonishing “draft dodging millionaire athletes” who disrespected veterans. The post was first noted by @krissiepotato. I called O’Neill’s office to confirm that the account actually belonged to the justice, and indeed it does.
Congratulations Cleveland Browns on your win. Unfortunately my season ended last night. I will NEVER attend a sporting event where the draft dodging millionaire athletes disrespect the veterans who earned them the right to be on that field. Shame on you all. William O’Neill, LTC, US Army, Retired. Vietnam veteran; son of a World II veteran; proud father of an Iraq veteran.
Fortunately, the Browns have tens of other fans to fall back on; unfortunately, if the draft board finds out about all the draft dodgers on the roster, those fans may have no team to watch.