You have every right to kneel during the National Anthem if you want, but sponsors have every right to withdraw their support if they choose as well.
That’s the lesson Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller learned when car dealership Phil Long Ford pulled their endorsement after Miller decided to kneel during the national anthem on Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
According to Yahoo Sports, the dealership is a veteran supporting, patriotic establishment, and parted ways with Miller:
“We are evaluating the events of the weekend. It is important to state that we haven’t fired Von. We are in the middle of contract renewal and this weekend’s events remind us that sometimes we feel that we best represent ourselves. We support Von and his first amendment rights, we know Von and he’s a good person. He donated a police car to his hometown police dept. All that notwithstanding when we bring in celebrities to represent us we run the risk of being misrepresented.
“We, like millions of Americans are concerned and will respond consistently with our values as a proud American company founded by a war hero (Phil Long). While we can’t control the actions of others we can be responsible for how we support our nation and community. That is why, years ago, our principal owner, Jay Cimino, founded the Mount Carmel Veteran’s Service center, and is supported by all Phil Long Dealerships. We support this cause not just with our words, but financially as well, and it is serving hundreds of veterans in need right here in Colorado. This would be a great time for our community to show support for our military community by supporting this cause or others that continue to serve them after they serve us.”
Players aren’t just losing endorsements over the politicization of the sport. The NFL as a whole is losing participation from fans. According to a recent report, viewership of Sunday Night’s game between the Raiders and the Redskins brought in ten percent less in viewership than last year.