Protesting the National Anthem is a pretty good indication that someone doesn’t understand the values for which it stands, which means it’ll come as an unpleasant surprise to a number of professional football players that one of those values is freedom of association.
CBS 4 in Denver reports that Von Miller, a linebacker for the Denver Broncos, joined 31 of his teammates yesterday in kneeling during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner before the Broncos’ game against the Buffalo Bills, and now he’s facing a consequence for that decision.
Denver’s Phil Long Ford dealership had been running TV advertisements that featured Miller, but has asked television stations in the area to stop airing them, a decision motivated by Miller’s protest yesterday.
You can read the full statement from Phil Long Dealerships right here:
“We are evaluating the events of the weekend. It is important to state that we haven’t fired Von. We are in the middle of contract renewal and this weekend’s events remind us that sometimes we feel that we best represent ourselves. We support Von and his first amendment rights, we know Von and he’s a good person. He donated a police car to his hometown police dept. All that notwithstanding when we bring in celebrities to represent us we run the risk of being misrepresented.
We, like millions of Americans are concerned and will respond consistently with our values as a proud American company founded by a war hero (Phil Long). While we can’t control the actions of others we can be responsible for how we support our nation and community. That is why, years ago, our principal owner, Jay Cimino, founded the Mount Carmel Veteran’s Service center, and is supported by all Phil Long Dealerships. We support this cause not just with our words, but financially as well, and it is serving hundreds of veterans in need right here in Colorado. This would be a great time for our community to show support for our military community by supporting this cause or others that continue to serve them after they serve us.
On the one hand, there’s a bit too much equivocation here for this observer’s tastes. How much is there to evaluate? The original rationale for taking a knee in protest of the National Anthem was because America is supposedly a racist hellhole where the KKK have traded in white hoods for blue uniforms, and the rationale for this weekend’s revival was that President Donald Trump somehow did something outrageous by condemning the original protest. What’s not to understand?
And yes, Miller deserves credit for donating a police car, but are we sure that was motivated entirely by being a “good person”… rather than, say, public relations to to clean some of the dirt off his public image from his history of drug and traffic offenses?
On the other hand, Phil Long Ford’s unequivocal support for basic patriotism is heartening, and points out why, contrary to the incessant bleating of Trump’s most demented haters, this isn’t a free speech issue. The words and actions of any public figure reflect on whatever employers, affiliations, or partnerships they’re involved in, and businesses who contract with spokesmen known for something non-political like sports have every right to expect not to have shame or scandal reflected back on them.
A word of advice, Von: educating yourself on what America really stands for could have spared you this embarrassment not only by raising the possibility, but by opening your eyes to the fact that the principles of the country don’t warrant protesting in the first place.