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This is only going to get uglier.

The backlash begins: Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Light among NFL figures attacking the anthem disrespec

By --September 26, 2017

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I guarantee you Roger Goodell and every NFL owner is trying to figure out how to put this genie back in the bottle. But they aided and abetted it with their weasely prepared statements, apparently in the belief that they could countenance a massive show of disrespect toward the nation and no one would voice any objection to it.

That . . . did not happen.

The worst offenders yesterday were the Pittsburgh Steelers, who not only stayed in the tunnel and refused to come out for the anthem, but whose coach Mike Tomlin went after decorated Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva for daring to stand for the anthem instead of caving to peer pressure going along with everyone else’s fit of pique. Rob has the sad update on that, but in the meantime, longtime Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger now realizes this was not the right thing to do:

I was unable to sleep last night and want to share my thoughts and feelings on our team’s decision to remain in the tunnel for the National Anthem yesterday. The idea was to be unified as a team when so much attention is paid to things dividing our country, but I wish we approached it differently. We did not want to appear divided on the sideline with some standing and some kneeling or sitting.

As a team, it was not a protest of the flag or the Anthem. I personally don’t believe the Anthem is ever the time to make any type of protest. For me, and many others on my team and around the league, it is a tribute to those who commit to serve and protect our country, current and past, especially the ones that made the ultimate sacrifice.

I appreciate the unique diversity in my team and throughout the league and completely support the call for social change and the pursuit of true equality. Moving forward, I hope standing for the Anthem shows solidarity as a nation, that we stand united in respect for the people on the front lines protecting our freedom and keeping us safe. God bless those men and women.

Meanwhile, former Patriots lineman Matt Light joined with the Patriots fans who booed the kneelers on their own team. This kind of garbage, Light says, is not the “Patriot Way,” which is the way of doing things that helped produce five Super Bowl wins:

The Ohio native, who spent 11 years in a Patriots uniform, said that he was “ashamed” to see Patriots players on a knee during the anthem.

“If you think that it’s OK to take a knee during our national anthem and disrespect openly the national anthem, you are wrong,” Light told the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian. “As a guy that’s been there and helped set up the Patriot Way so they can walk in there and do what they do, it’s beyond disheartening. It’s the first time I’ve ever been ashamed to be a Patriot. And I promise you I’m not the only one.”

Light, who attended the game next to the wife of a slain member of Seal Team 6, said there is not any reason in the world to ever take a knee during the national anthem.

“That’s the reality that these so-called men don’t understand. Is it about their cause or is it about them? If it was about their cause, I could come up with a million different ways for them to really truly change things. If it’s about them, well … you see what happens. The collateral damage is widespread,” Light said. “They obviously didn’t think about anybody other than themselves.”

Light, who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots and made three Pro Bowls, said that the protests “would have never happened during my time.”


Continued below...

Everyone is going to do this! You will join in! You will do as you’re told!

The public statement of NFL owners and players on Sunday and Monday were so homogenous - so designed to please the media and Trump-hating activists - it was hard not to get the sense that the league gave them all talking points. That suspicion was furthered when Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin lamented that he didn’t get 100 percent participation to disrespect the country.

Everyone is going to do this! You will join in! You will do as you’re told!

A protest that was ostensibly in response to Donald Trump trying to bully them ended up as a big bullying exercise all its own, with no one allowed to dissent and no one allowed to opt out.

What did the NFL think was going to happen if it did this? Did it really think everyone who was appalled by what was happening would stay silent forever?

I’ve already had one black friend defriend me today on Facebook because of the column I wrote earlier sticking up for the police. He is not typical but it’s an example of how angry this whole thing has become, and now the NFL has decided to wade in headlong and take sides - in favor of the protests and against President Trump and the police. That is not going to end well, not for the NFL and not for anyone.


It’s no wonder we can’t deal with debt, entitlements, health care or tax reform

In the meantime, more and more players are going respond to their consciences and acknowledge what should be obvious to everyone: When you start mixing this kind of anger with sports, you’re the ones being divisive. You can blame Trump all you want, but he didn’t start this and he can’t end it. They’re the ones deciding to take it up a notch, and they’re the ones acting like there is no other side to the story.

It’s no wonder we can’t deal with debt, entitlements, health care or tax reform. The soul of this nation has become so dark, we can’t even sit down to watch football anymore without getting in fights with each other.

Please don’t let this garbage spread to baseball.

Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by, which can be found at

A new edition of Dan’s book “Powers and Principalities” is now available in hard copy and e-book editions. Follow all of Dan’s work, including his series of Christian spiritual warfare novels, by liking his page on Facebook.

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