I’ve been a Washington Redskins fan since 1958. I almost never miss a Redskins game and rarely watch NFL regular season games that don’t involve the Redskins.
However, if the Redskins had refused to come out on the field during the playing of the National Anthem or if most the team had taken a knee while the Anthem was played, I think I would have ended my 60 year relationship with the team.
If some members of the team want to disrespect our country, I can live with that. We’re dealing with 53 players, most of them in their 20s and many of them poorly educated. It’s unrealistic to expect all of them to resist this latest protest fad and improper, in my view, for the team to force them to curb their expression to that extent. The playing of the Anthem presents the players with what is essentially a binary choice — stand with respect or don’t. They should be free to make that choice.
But if the whole team, or most of it, chooses to disrespect our country, then I want nothing more to do with the team.
Fortunately, that’s not what happened. Instead, owner Daniel Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen joined the team on the sidelines. Everyone locked arms. About half a dozen players took a knee. The rest stood.
What did this convey? First, no one is going to be fired for not standing, President Trump’s ill-conceived suggestion notwithstanding. Second, the team, though holding diverse views, is united. Third, the vast majority of the players respect our country enough to stand during the National Anthem.
That’s good enough for me.
What about the Oakland Raiders, the Redskins opponent last night. They decided to stay in the locker room when the Anthem was played. However, they were advised that, because of the exigencies of national television, this course of action would result in them missing the coin toss. Thus, the Redskins would start both halves with possession of the football. In addition, the Raiders would be assessed a 15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Loss of one possession and 15 years proved to be too steep a price to pay for expressing whatever noble views the Raiders purport to uphold by disrespecting America. Thus, the team deigned to leave the locker room before the Anthem was played. Nearly all of them, as far as I could tell, took a knee or sat in a chair when the time came.
The Raiders might as well have stayed in the locker room all evening. The Redskins crushed them. The final score, 27-10, doesn’t begin to tell the story. But for two Redskins turnovers (one of them unforced) deep in their own territory, the Skins would have pitched a shut-out. But for a meaningless last minute semi-drive, the Raiders would not have amassed 100 yards of total offense.
The final yardage count was Redskins 472, Raiders 128. It was the Skins most dominant performance in decades.
Before the game, the Redskins issued a statement, as I believe all or nearly all NFL teams did. I would have preferred no statement other than the one delivered so forcefully on the field. But as these things go, the team’s statement was unobjectionable. It read:
Football has always served as the great unifier, bringing people together to celebrate the values of courage, commitment and achievement. We are proud of the players, coaches and fans of the Washington Redskins for all that they have done to improve the lives of others in neighborhoods all across our region.
We are also grateful for the sacrifices made by the brave men and women of our armed forces that have provided us the freedom to play football. In that great tradition, the Washington Redskins will work to address divisions and bring unity, civility and respect to our greater community.
It looks like I’m doomed to support this mediocre franchise for the duration.
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