The NFL. Or, the National Felons League.
The Veterans Memorial Day Tribute is an organization run by and for the benefit of American patriots. Although I can’t claim to know the entire story of how it began, I know for sure that Louetta Smith has spent countless hours well behind the scenes to make sure that it comes off flawlessly every year. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night has prevented Louetta and her small, but intrepid, band of volunteers from honoring Colorado veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice in our nation’s various wars.
When I first began attending the observance several years ago, it took place in Civic Center Park at the Veterans Monument just west of the state Capital. Then, perhaps because of our unruly May weather, it was moved into the nearby Pillar of Fire Church on 13th and Sherman Street.
It’s a solemn, moving ceremony. Accompanied by the slow tolling of a bell, the names and ranks of the fallen are read. Then, family members are presented with an embroidered pennant recognizing their loss by a ramrod straight member of the armed services who moves through the sanctuary with measured, deliberate steps.
Now that the “War on Terror” has dragged on for more than 16 inconclusive years, some of the names, such as Navy Seal Danny Dietz’, have been read repeatedly. Lamentably, new names are added with each passing year. I’ve also noticed that Sergeants are disproportionately represented among the fallen, something that a cursory search of the internet seems to bear out.
This past Memorial Day, I happened to be sitting close enough to a family that was given a pennant so that I was able to overhear the service member lean forward and, in a hushed voice say, “On behalf of a grateful nation, we honor your family’s sacrifice.”
I can’t speak for other members of the audience, but if mine were a good measure, there were few dry eyes in sanctuary by the time the ceremony was over. The mournful wail of the bagpipes closed the service. When I emerged from the church, into the glare of a hot May afternoon, I was as emotionally wrung out as an old piece of drift wood.
And now we’re treated to the spectacle of our favorite faux warriors, NFL players, taking a knee during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner to protest racial injustice.
Like, I suppose, the injustice of the average salary of NFL players, about 70% of whom are black, being a cool $1.9 million. And, yes, I’ll concede that NFL players suffer more than their share of the dings about which football fans endlessly hyperventilate. But their pay still compares pretty favorably to the average salary of something less than the $30,000 that a sergeant in the U.S. Army pulls down. Especially given the risk those sergeants run of the “ding” that leaves them without one of their limbs. Or, even worse, a wife without a husband. Or kids without a father.
But even the NFL’s spoiled knuckle draggers know that they aren’t underpaid. No, these protests are about the alleged racial grievances of which we hear no end. So, yes, let’s talk about those beefs.
How about police brutality against blacks? If the somber, black faces on the Sunday TV screens are the measure, it must be horrific.
But what if I told you that that in 2015 a cop was 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male was to be killed by a police officer? And that ratio has undoubtedly gotten worse given the 53% increase of gun murders of cops in 2016-committed overwhelmingly by blacks.
So, yes, read ’em and weep. But not for the NFL phonies shedding crocodile tears for black criminals. But for the shattered families and colleagues of the multitudes of police officers who have been cut down by those criminals.
But, at least these players know of what they speak. While studies show that the NFL’s pampered millionaires aren’t committing property crimes at a rate higher than the population at large, when it comes to violent crime, they’re MVPs. You know, the “little” things like murder, manslaughter, DUI manslaughter, robbery, aggravated assault, sexual assault, rape, battery, domestic violence, child abuse and kidnapping.
Some may be offended that I am even drawing attention to this information. In their minds, this kind of data qualifies as “hatefacts.” And anyone who unearths it in government crime statistics and points it out is guilty of the Orwellian thought crime of “noticing.”
I mentioned this post about the NFL controversy to my personal trainer, Mike, the other day. He responded that another client “Predicted that the NFL will be gone in 10 years.”
“Really,” I answered, “why does he think that?”
“He believes nothing that can be done about the traumatic brain injuries caused by the game. It’s not the bit hits that do the damage, it’s the constant small ones. And, yes,” he conceeded, “they’re constantly improving the helmets, but there’s really nothing they can do to prevent concussions when you have those huge men running into each other.”
You can probably imagine that it wouldn’t break my heart to see the NFL go the way of the dinosaur. Or, for that matter, Division I college football. What, after all, is big time college football other than a farm league for the NFL? Both are profoundly corrupt. And, as our equivalent of the Roman Empire’s bloodthirsty gladiatorial games, inure us to violence. And coarsen our culture.
Think about this for a moment. Is it really the best use of your time to sit in front of the TV and watch a bunch of thugs knock each other down into the wee hours of Monday night? And Thursday night? And pretty much all day Sunday?