As the delightful and noticeably unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick dared to intermix apparent protests for social justice causes with the National Anthem, the 2017 professional football regular season rivaled a turbulent descent into the thunder cloud ridden sky of O’hare airport, as players, fans and owners clashed, while the nation debated the mechanism of protest in heated and terse moments around the water cooler.
In the end, the television ratings revealed the extent of the damage to the NFL brand, as over the course of the season, hundreds of millions of viewers decided that leisure time on Sundays would no longer include the once ceremonious ritual of watching football on the flatscreen.
Of course, the plummeting numbers correlated directly with the hijinks of certain players choosing to shift the focus of a traditional pregame ceremony and celebration of freedom, onto a personal and self-aggrandizing stage forged by rampart entitlement and anchored by safe rooms, complete with tissues dispensed from bling-infused receptacles. The message from the casual sports fan is concise, keep the politics outside of the stadium and out of the workplace, or hard earned dollars and valuable time will be spent elsewhere.
Now that the regular season is over and biting irony has transformed the most polarizing and hypocritical members of the league into mere fans, the fun is just beginning. Instead of providing the usual power rankings of the remaining teams with legitimate postseason hopes for a Superbowl berth, the staff at Liberty Park Press, has instead decided to rank the contenders from worst to first, in terms of the National Anthem protest footprint over the entire 2017 season. Included in the subjective criteria, is frequency and magnitude of incidents, and the interaction of staff and players with the media and fans. Besides, we all know that winning is no longer the most important objective in culminating the season, it is all about me, me and ME!
1. Pittsburgh Steelers- It does not get any worse than Head Coach Mike Tomlin publicly lambasting former Army Ranger and valor recipient Alejandro Villanueva, for choosing to stand on the field for the presentation of the Stars and the Strips, while the rest of the team hid in the locker room.
2. Kansas City Chiefs- Cornerback Marcus Peters continues a season long absence from the field during the Anthem, a trend that will surely continue into the playoffs.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars- In a bizarre and appalling moment, team President Mark Lamping knelt with players during the Star Spangled Banner before a game versus the Baltimore Ravens in London. Even more disturbing is that the same offenders of social justice from both teams actually stood during the British national song.
4. Tennessee Titans- Wide Receiver Rishard Matthews was an ardent advocate for unpatriotic behavior on social networking and attempted to backtrack on his opinions, only to be called out as incredulous by savvy internet users
5. Buffalo Bills- A total of six players knelt before a game against the Atlanta Falcons, while the entire Falcon team honored the flag by standing.
6. New England Patriots- Tom Brady? Owner Robert Craft? God hate ’em, but the team effectively emulates its name to a tee.
1. New Orleans Saints- Not only is Head Coach Sean Payton a staunch advocate of gun control and regular soundbyte in the wake of every tragedy, but the situation has gotten so tense between players and fans, that certain ticket holders are asking for the entire purchase of game passes to be refunded by the team.
2. Philadelphia Eagles- Malcom Jenkins epitomizes the brash and blue collar mentality of Philly. While he will never be confused notably with Rocky Balboa, Jenkin’s escalation of the movement in addressing policy with the league’s top brass, draws special attention.
3. Carolina Panthers- We need to go no further than Quarterback Cam Newton and his Warhol disaster of a press conference fashion statement.
4. Los Angeles Rams- LA secretly loves their football team and a few of the players raised fists or locked arms, but nothing of epic note.
5. Atlanta Falcons- A pair of players knelt during a single game, and thus constitutes an isolated incident. See “Buffalo Bills” above.
6. Minnesota Vikings- Really nothing to see hear. A team that was truly focused on winning on the field from the start, rather than whining in tunnel.
The most notable absence in this stew of football intrigue is the most vocal teams in protesting rather than playing, highlighted by the Seattle Seahawks and the always pleasant Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett. If not for the leftist tendencies of the Seattle socio-economic makeup, Paul Alan’s gnarly crew in Midwestern city would have kindly shown the door into the dark night of cruel reality.