This is so difficult that I don’t know even where to begin.
I watched in abject astonishment as you led your team in kneeling on the field. While I am glad you stood for the national anthem I still cannot escape the feeling that you led your team in a sickening capitulation to political correctness. You led your team in living the lie. I am to broken hearted to be angry. Allow me to elaborate.
Nearly fifty years ago my grandfather, a life long Texan, WWII veteran who retired from the Air Force with 23 years service and die hard Cowboys fan who could do anything from fix the car to killing rattlesnakes (but could never clean the blood out of the airplanes he serviced because it was the blood of his friends and there was simply to much of it) introduced me as a young child to his favorite sport, football. As we watched (on a black and white set no less) the likes of Walt Garrison, Dandy Don Merideth and Leroy Jordan play he would explain the game to me. Many of my fondest memories were made on those Sundays.
Later, when I was older my dad, a Vietnam veteran (combat engineer) who lied about his age to join the U.S. Army at sixteen and worked his way up to obtain his Warrant Officer commission and eventually to a full commission, would allow me to watch my Cowboys play even though he was not much of a football fan. I would breathlessly explain to him the plays of Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson and Randy “manster” White. He would feign interest and complement me on my observational ability, then return to what ever he was working on. While he never enjoyed football the way I did he cared enough to give up his Sunday shows to let me watch my Cowboys. Small though those sacrifices may have been, they taught me the value of sacrifice and I will always be thankful for that.
A few years later when I had the chance to play football in High School I had visions of greatness, as I expect all young men do when they get their first taste of “professional” sports. The Van Vandals, from the tiny town of Van, Texas were a good team that year despite my mediocre football talents. I didn’t play much, nor should I have. My physical skills simply were not up to my mental abilities. Still, I learned the value of preparation, discipline and team work.
Not to long after my brief excursion into football I joined the U. S. Navy. Because of my service commitments I missed many games. This served to make the occasional games I was able to watch all the more special to me. Even on my two deployments (6 and 9 months respectively) I worked hard to keep up with “my team.” Many was the time I would be chastised for my love of my Cowboys. My love of my Cowboys ran to deep to be affected by mere ridicule. I never let it shake me.
In my last year of service I met the lovely young women who would, against her families wishes, marry me. She, a die hard Seattle Seahawks fan and me the die hard Cowboys fan have spent 32 years watching the teams we love and cheering each other on. She helped me through Troy Aikmens 1989 zero for 11 performance. She cheered with me when my Cowboys won Superbowls in 92, 93 and 95. I try as hard as I can to do the same for her.
One of my most cherished memories was meeting Emmit Smith at a trading card show during his rookie season. He was a delightful and engaging person.
You may have noticed a theme running through this letter. I love football and it has been a big part of my life all of my life. That is what makes this so difficult.
You do not appear to understand that the knee taking is in support of a demonstrably provable lie. For some one in your position, accepting such a blatant lie as fact, let alone acting on it, is inexcusable.
My experience with racism directed at me personally is limited to being spat on by a very old Japanese man one day while my ship was visiting Japan. A young man who witnessed the incident came over and acted as a translator. The old man had lost many of his family during the war and was still angry. I was simply a target of opportunity. I asked the young translator to explain to the old man that I had nothing to do with that history as my mother came to America in 1947 as a child and that my fathers parents came to America from Spain in the 1930’s. The old man did not reply, he simply looked at me, bowed ever so slightly and left. I bear the old man no grudge as he taught me a valuable lesson, anger, allowed to fester, often goes astray.
On the other hand I heard the stories of my grandmothers experience with hatred. She met my grandfather in Germany. He was able to finally bring her and my mother to America after years of bureaucratic nonsense. My grandmother was, in the late forties and early fifties, the frequent victim of hatred. She chose to rise above it and show who she was by example. She learned English, eventually found a job and helped my grandfather on his ten acre farm in east Texas. At age 55 she went to college, earned her degree in journalism and worked for the local paper as a writer and photographer. She taught me what you missed the opportunity to teach your players, virtue signaling is meaningless.
My dad, because of his dark complexion and jet black hair, was called spic and wetback more times than I can count. The fact that his parents came from Spain was never considered by those who berated him because of what they thought he was. Like my grandmother, my dad did his best to stay above the hatred of others. As one of his army buddies put it once, “He never started a fight but he sure finished a few.” On Sunday you missed the opportunity to teach your team to rise above the shallow, factless arguments of liberal hatemongers. You chose not just for you but for your team to live the lie of institutional American racism. It is a proven lie by members of my own family because despite all the real hatred experienced by my family members they all went on to rise above it and even prosper.
On a more personal note, you chose not just to dishonor the flag and the national anthem, you chose to dishonor three generations of my family. When your players “speak” on the field they are directly or indirectly, “speaking” for you or, at the very least, with your permission. There is no way for this to not be taken personally.
Now for the hard part. I can no longer watch the NFL. Nor will I be supporting any of it’s sponsors. I realize my pittance will not be missed but it is my pittance to do with as I choose and I choose not to give it to those who disrespect everything my family has overcome and achieved to placate a group of implacable liars.