Day after day it seems more NFL players, coaches, owners, and alumni are ridding themselves of the burden of independent thought as they bow before the almighty outrage mob.
At least one team owner is choosing to think for herself.
Buffalo Bills co-owner Kim Pegula is making it clear that she will be standing for the National Anthem when the NFL season starts up.
Pegula said on “One Bills Live” that she doesn’t plan on kneeling as players from across the NFL spectrum have either decided for sure that they will kneel or have heard that other players will.
“Personally, I’m not going to kneel. But we’ve been listening. We’ve been learning to love other people and understand experiences and what they have gone through, what they’ve experienced, and what maybe the anthem or the flag means to them, it’s truly different than what I went through,” Pegula said, according to Buffalo News.
“Honestly, that’s how I feel. I will be standing, but that’s my choice. That’s my right. I would hope that the players as well respect that, just like I’m going to respect them for what they want to do if they so choose to.”
Pegula said ownership’s position hasn’t changed since players started to follow Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 and 2017 seasons and kneel during the anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
Pegula, a South-Korean born U.S. citizen, has a great amount of respect and admiration for the American flag and what it truly represents.
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She also explained that she has a reason for standing, and that her decision to stand isn’t to show that she opposes kneeling.
“I think and I would hope that our players or anybody would understand that if I’m standing, that does not mean I am … for racism,” Kim Pegula said. “Certainly, it’s not. And the same goes for our players. If they choose to kneel, or whoever wants to protest, I don’t think it’s because they don’t love the country or they don’t respect our military or any of that.”
Kim Pegula realizes that, this time, things seem different — and that more people are learning about and understanding the historical experiences of blacks in America.
“In some ways we’ve come a long ways, in other ways it’s been very slow,” she said. “I think if you talk to the black community, they would say, ‘Listen, it’s been hundreds of years and we’re still in this place.’ This time around, people are listening more. Whether it’s deliberate or whether it’s just a part of where we are in our world, we’re listening more and our hearts and our ears are a little bit more open than maybe they were three years ago.”
She’s right, and it’s right for team owners to make sure players understand that they have their support in whatever they decide to do. The message from ownership can’t be that kneeling will be tolerated or permitted or grudgingly accepted. Owners need to say to their teams that a conscious decision regarding conduct during the anthem is encouraged, and that there will be no repercussions based on whatever decision each player makes.
Perhaps Pegula's correct understanding of what Old Glory represents is due to her not being born here.
Much like a privileged rich kid who has never known differently, many Americans do not appreciate just how great they have it.
There are still those who appreciate the freedoms and equality that we all enjoy though.
Hopefully this can be a lesson for the rest of the sports world to take note of.
We live in the most prosperous and free nation of all time, and it's time we all come together and celebrate that together.