Elizabeth Hess/Left is Right: No Kaepernick means no NFL for me

Elizabeth Hess/Left is Right: No Kaepernick means no NFL for me


Over the past 15 Sunday afternoons/Monday nights, I have saved myself roughly 45 hours by not tuning in to watch the Chicago Bears. Fifteen games in, and I have not watched even five minutes of professional football this year.

Sure, it helps that the Bears are 5-10, but Colin Kaepernick really made my decision for me. Until he has a job with an NFL team, they can count me out as a viewer.

Back in August of 2016, then San Francisco 49er Kaepernick began a protest by sitting on the bench during the national anthem prior to a preseason game. Before the team's third preseason game, a photographer caught him sitting during the anthem and that photo went viral.

Kaepernick summed up my feelings perfectly when he said: "I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice for everyone."

Kaepernick and I both believe that when someone serves our country, they do it to defend our freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of expression — freedom to protest.

At first, when Kaepernick sat on the bench, that didn't sit well with U.S. Army veteran and former Seattle Seahawk Nate Boyer. The Army Times published an open letter to Kaepernick from Boyer, which read, "To be honest, if I had noticed my teammate sitting on the bench, it would have really hurt me. I'm not judging you for standing up for what you believe in. It's your inalienable right."

After the letter was published, Boyer convinced Kaepernick to kneel, rather than sit, during the national anthem. Boyer said: "Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother's grave, to show respect. When we're on a patrol, and we go into a security halt, we take a knee."

Kaepernick's then-teammate Eric Reid joined him in kneeling for the protest prior to that game. Reid said he chose to kneel because he said it's a respectful gesture. He said he remembers thinking their posture was like a "flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy."

No one likes a loud, violent, disruptive protest. What Kaepernick did was peaceful, contained, and started a dialogue — without a single arrest or police altercation at the time.

President Trump, who can't seem to filter himself when he gets in front of a crowd of his supporters, sent a message to the owners of the NFL: "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He's fired. He's fired."

What Trump did was name-calling and empty bravado. After the president's crass outburst, even more NFL players and team owners decided to kneel in solidarity.

A friend canceled her NFL package because of "what was going on in the NFL." I assumed she was like-minded and also boycotted because of the Kaepernick shutout.

When she clarified it was because of the "ungrateful, entitled, NFL players, disrespecting the flag," I realized there are two very polarizing views to this act. She said her dad fought for our country, and they needed to show their respect the flag and the anthem.

My dad also defended this country SO we could enjoy freedom. My friend and I agreed to disagree. And while there is no official NFL conduct rule during the national anthem, I will applaud the players to "take a stand" — and kneel.

Elizabeth Hess is co-host of "The DWS Morning Show" on NewsTalk 1400 WDWS, a News-Gazette Media radio station. Her email is ehess@wdws.com.

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GLG wrote on January 01, 2018 at 9:01 am

NFL= National Felons League! Overpaid thugs, drunks, wifebeaters!

yates wrote on January 02, 2018 at 9:01 am

Not a bad article until you threw Trump in the mix, Elizabeth. Then you sounded more like one of butthurt Hillary's resisters, then someone with real feelings for Colin Kaepernick or the NFL.

CommonSenseless wrote on January 04, 2018 at 1:01 pm

The virtue signal is strong with this one...