Charlotte, NC: Before the start of last Sunday’s football game … all the Carolina Panthers stood, with their coaches, for our National Anthem and to honor our flag. All except, # 90, Julius Peppers. He decided to stay in the locker room. Peppers said he didn’t discuss his decision with teammates beforehand, so they wouldn’t feel they had to join him. In other words, he would not be a part of the team in its decision to stand, nor honor our National Anthem and our flag.
Coach Rivera did not publicly appear upset about Peppers decision, nor did he publicly ridicule him. I don’t know what was said in the locker room, after the game. Certainly, not enough (if anything at all) to make Peppers feel uncomfortable and to regret his decision to not “stand” with his team.
In fact, Julius Peppers’ later statement was “The protest wasn’t about the flag, or the military, or the anthem, but directly about President Trump’s remarks.” The honest, earthy, passionate comments by our President about those players who disrespect the flag … were enough to make Julius Pepper … in my opinion … disrespect the Anthem and our flag.
And … that was the end … of that.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The Pittsburgh Steelers played the Bears, last Sunday, in Chicago. The team and the coaches stayed in the locker room during the National Anthem. Again, in my opinion, a showing of disrespect … or … at the very least … cowardice to stand up for our Anthem, flag, and country.
All the team, except … for one lone player … # 78, Alejandro Villanueva, an Army veteran who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan. Villanueva came out of the locker room and stood proudly. He was cheered. It was a proud moment. But that “proud moment” did not last long.
Villanueva was lambasted and ridiculed by Coach Tomlin and the rest of his team, directly after the game …for honoring the National Anthem … and the country, for which he had fought, in three tours of duty.
Hours later, Alejandro Villanueva …apologized … for taking it upon himself to honor the flag and country for which he served. In my opinion … I believe his safety … and his job … had something to do with his disappointment in with himself … for not … “sitting” with his team.
In Charlotte, one player is met with “compassion, tolerance, and understanding,” by his coach and players … for not joining his team in honoring our National Anthem, flag, and country.
In Pittsburgh, one player is lambasted, ridiculed and called-out by his coach and team … for standing up and respecting our National Anthem, flag, and our country.
This isn’t just a “tale of two cities.” This is a “tale of a country in distress.”
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Debbie Barth: 09/26/2017 at 1:26 pm EDT
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