Millions of fans are unhappy with the current trend of national anthem kneeling by NFL players — and they’ve expressed their anger and disgust over the last few days in a number of “we’re-not-taking-it-anymore” moves.
Here is a look at five of the biggest backlashes against the NFL’s kneelers this week.
1.) Fans burn their memorabilia. Jersey burning has become a favorite way of protesting for unhappy sports fans. It gained notoriety when LeBron James signed with the Miami Heat in 2010, but now it’s made its way to the NFL.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers fan Robert Smith posted videos on social media of himself burning his Steelers gear that his kids gave him because all but one of the team’s players did not come out onto the field for the national anthem last Sunday.
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“My great uncle’s bones are lying in the bottom of Pearl Harbor for this country, for the flag, for your freedom to play in the NFL and for you to say whatever you want to say,” Smith says in the video. He was one of many fans to post videos of himself burning jerseys online.
In fact, a New England Patriots fan scheduled a mass jersey burning (after 20 players took a knee at a previous game) at his Swansea, Massachusetts, home for Thursday night, which many fans and peaceful protesters attended. Mark Shane, the organizer of the event, said they’d likely only burn a few jerseys; and most jerseys would be going to the hurricane relief effort in Puerto Rico.
In addition to jerseys, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Rodney Heard posted a video of burning his Indianapolis Colts season tickets — valued at about $4,000 — after players from the team locked arms and knelt at a game.
2.) Sponsors pull their money. In an era where YouTube de-monetizes videos deemed not “advertiser-friendly,” potential sponsors are deciding NFL broadcasts are not the place they’d like to put their money.
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Tennessee businessman Allan Jones announced on his Facebook page on Tuesday that he is pulling commercials from NFL broadcasts for his businesses: Check Into Cash, Buy Here Pay Here USA, and U.S. Money Shops and Hardwick Clothes.
This could be the first of many sponsorship losses if the NFL players continue their actions.
3.) Bills stadium employee quits job. After spending nearly 30 years working at New Era Field in Buffalo, Erich Nikischer quit his position when he saw several Bills players kneel for the national anthem on Sunday.
“I waited until the national anthem ended, [and] I took off my shirt, threw my Bills hat on the ground, walked out,” he told WGRZ, NBC’s Buffalo Affiliate.
Nikischer also works as a court officer in Buffalo; and since stadium employees only work part-time, continued protests could lead to more people quitting across the nation.
4.) Restaurants refuse to show games. People who are going out to eat on Sunday might want to double-check whether or not the bar or restaurant they’re attending will air NFL games.
Restaurants in New York, South Carolina and Louisiana gained national attention for announcing they would not be airing NFL games on Sunday in response to players refusing to stand for the national anthem.
Some restaurants will not show any games, but one Galveston, Texas, establishment called Hemingway’s is simply refusing to air Pittsburgh Steelers games. Prior to these boycotts, restaurants already refused to show NFL games this season as long as original kneeler Colin Kaepernick did not have a job.
5.) Police officers refuse to work NFL games. Since NFL players made it clear they are unhappy with the job that police officers nationwide are doing, many law enforcement officers do not want to provide players with protection anymore.
This week, Geauga (Ohio) County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand banned his deputies from working any NFL games this season because he felt the protests were disrespectful to veterans and law enforcement. Hildenbrand, a Browns season ticket holder, also said his seats will remain empty for the rest of the year.
“If they do not have respect for us and our country, only bad things will come of that,” he wrote on Facebook. “We will not be a part of these activities.”
If the NFL wants these actions to stop — all the players have to do is stand.
(photo credit, article images: Youtube / Keith Allison, Flickr)