Dear NFL

Dear NFL,

Ours has been a simple relationship that flourished in spite of any differences we may have had. I didn’t care about your political or religious views and you didn’t care about mine.

I’ve respected your consistency in avoiding controversial issues.

For example, you stopped the Dallas Cowboys from wearing decals in honor of five local police officers who had been murdered. You vowed to fine players who wanted to wear specially-designed cleats in honor of the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. You fined Robert Griffin III $10,000 twice for wearing Adidas apparel — once on the field during pregame and once during a post-game news conference. Those fines led the injured quarterback to turn his Know Jesus Know Peace t-shirt inside out for a news conference to avoid another fine.

I may not have agreed with every decision you made, but I respected your stance to remain neutral and avoid the appearance of choosing sides.

I don’t know what happened, but you’ve changed. Instead of restricting political protest, you allowed a player to kneel during the national anthem, even though your rules stated they should stand out of respect. Then you allowed whole teams to remain in their locker rooms and not participate in the national anthem.

Does this mean players are allowed personal expression during the national anthem but not during pre-game or post-game activities? And does it mean you would have allowed the Cowboys to kneel during the national anthem to recognize the murdered police officers? Or allowed players to kneel in order to bring attention to the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Can players kneel to bring awareness to Jesus?

You decided a political issue was more important than the game, in spite of how it might make me feel. I don’t know how else to interpret your decision.

It is your choice. You have the right to make the decision. But you’re not the same NFL I loved. I don’t feel like I know you any more.

Why would you do this? Millions of Americans have a deep-seeded love for the flag, the national anthem, and the pre-game ceremony. Kneeling during that ceremony insulted them. You might as well have disrespected their moms, as deeply as they are hurt. Not a smart way to begin a conversation or develop sympathy for your cause. I thought you were smarter than that.

I should thank you, really. For many years I didn’t think I could live without you. When you were around nothing else mattered, and I thought about you often between our times together. We have lots of good memories.

But it’s over. Last year I followed closely the decisions you made and was gravely disappointed. So much so that I needed a break. That’s when I discovered something fascinating. I could live without you. In fact, now I’m thriving and happy without you. I’m sorry if that hurts, but it’s the truth.

So thank you. Thank you for showing me who you really are so I can move on with my life.

I’m not avoiding or boycotting or trying to punish you. I’ve just lost interest.

So this is goodbye. I’ll see you around. And don’t try to insult me by saying you’ve changed. Show me you’ve changed, don’t tell. Then, well, maybe we’ll see…

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4 Responses to Dear NFL

  1. Terry Ullum says:

    Well written. It expresses your thought and decisions without disrespecting theirs. Well done.

  2. Jim Potter says:

    Whether I agree is not the issue. This is an extremely well written, powerful, personal essay! Wow! Thanks for sharing it.

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