The Tennessee Titans made the politically charged decision to boycott the national anthem in their home NFL home game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, choosing instead to remain in the locker room while the rest of the game’s attendees honored the flag.
“As a team, we wanted to be unified in our actions today,” the Titans organization said in a brief statement, released via Twitter. “The players jointly decided this was the best course of action. Our commitment to the military and our community is resolute and the absence of our team for the national anthem shouldn’t be misconstrued as unpatriotic.”
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) September 24, 2017
Reaction from fans and elected representatives in Tennessee was fierce.
“Unfortunately, Tennesseans were subjected first hand today, to the disrespect to those who fought for the right for these players, to even be in uniform. The TN Titans wanted us to believe that their ‘unified decision’ still reflected a commitment to the military, in the absence of our TN team from America’s National Anthem and that it shouldn’t be misconstrued as unpatriotic,” State Rep. Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma) and a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 6th Congressional District said in a statement released Sunday afternoon:
Standing for the national anthem is the appropriate respect owed those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country. The fact that anyone would claim it’s ‘divisive’ to say that just shows how much politically correct nonsense has run amuck. Of course, players have a first amendment right to express themselves, but their employers have the right to fire them. Most importantly, we as patriotic Americans have the right not to patronize a league that condones this anti-American behavior.
I will be introducing legislation this week, to ban our state government from participating in any further direct or indirect ventures with sports teams, and to withhold any further funding until this anti-patriotic epidemic is squarely broken. The State of TN can take steps to make sure taxpayers don’t have to pay for this any longer. I am deeply concerned about these role models in our society encouraging our youth, to disrespect our flag and anthem, and what it stands for.
We will not be able to defend ourselves in the future against regimes like Iran and North Korea, or worse, if we can’t field an army of patriotic people. There is a line that has to be taken when it comes to subsidizing, especially subsidizing someone slapping our country in the face,
Tennesseans who have, until Sunday, been loyal fans of the Titans for years were equally unhappy with the team.
“It is very unpatriotic,” wrote Kevin Hurt, commenting on the team’s post. “I WAS a fan, but no more. I will not buy Titans gear, or anything with Titans on it again!! I served 32 years in the Army and take this as a personal slap in the face!! GOODBYE TITANS!!! GOODBYE NFL!!”
Amber Ridders agreed, writing, “I finished with the Titans today. I have been a fan from the day they changed from the Oilers. I was 15 years old. Kevin Hurt both of my grandfathers served in the Navy during Vietnam, one was a career Vet. God Bless you and I thank you for your service.”
Diana Cordell reacted, “Wow, never been so disappointed in the team in my entire life. I thought this team would all be out on the field with not a single player kneeling. This is a sign of great disrespect. Whoever made this decision for the team or if this was a team decision, I am shocked and hurt. You all are so much better than that.”
Mark Campbell added, “Well my support for the United States of America over NFL today shouldn’t be misconstrued as anything but total disappointment in the Titans. This is the saddest day I have ever had as a NFL fan.”
Not a single member of the Titans team was brave enough to stand and show respect for the flag when the national anthem was played before the game.
The Titans beat the Seahawks 33 to 27, but many of their local fans did not seem to care about the outcome of today’s game–or any Titans game in the future, for that matter.
It was a different story in Chicago earlier in the day, where former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva, the Pittsburgh Steelers starting left tackle who served three tours in Afghanistan while he was in the Army, showed his pampered teammates what real courage is by leaving every other member of the team back in the locker room, and coming onto the field, where he stood at attention with his hand over his heart as the national anthem was played.
The Bears beat the visiting Steelers in overtime, 23 to 17.