Delanie Walker is a tight end for the Tennessee Titans. Last Sunday, Delanie and his teammates stayed in their locker room rather than come onto the field and stand for the National Anthem.
The Titans, of course, were not alone in their unwillingness to show respect for the flag of the country that has afforded them the opportunity to become wealthy men. Some teams locked arms, some players kneeled, some waited in the tunnel, apparently hoping no one would notice their absence.
But, NFL fans across the country did take notice, and they were disgusted by what they saw. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ lone player to stand for the anthem, Alejandro Villenueva, saw sales of his jersey soar. Because Americans respect those who show respect.
Social media has been full of videos this week of formerly diehard NFL fans burning their season tickets, trashing their NFL gear, and calling out the teams, the players and the NFL commissioner for their short-sighted comments and behavior.
For his part, Delanie Walker thinks Americans who threaten to stop watching and supporting the NFL are chumps.
First off, I’m going to say this: We’re not disrespecting the military, the men and women that serve in the Army. That’s not what it’s all about. If you look at most of the guys in here – I’ve been in the USO. I support the troops. This is not about that. It’s about equal rights, and that’s all everyone is trying to show, is that we all care about each other. And the fans that don’t want to come to the game? I mean, OK. Bye. I mean, if you feel that’s something, we’re disrespecting you, don’t come to the game. You don’t have to. No one’s telling you to come to the game. It’s your freedom of choice to do that.
Just so we’re clear, Delanie Walker doesn’t want you to watch him, his team, or the NFL if you don’t support his point of view. What does he care? He’s got his fat paycheck, he’s livin’ large.
It’s clear that his flippant “Bye!” is meant as a middle finger to all those who think he and his team screwed up. The problem here is that Walker doesn’t even entertain the idea that fans who are unhappy with the NFL might just have a point. He’s not trying to be conciliatory and appreciative of the fact that he can’t do what he does without the fans. It his way or byeeee.
The sad fact is that Delanie Walker and all those who refused to honor the flag achieved nothing, other than rising the ire of millions of Americans. Not one of these players articulated a vision for a better America, a vision that welcomed the support of those who think standing for the anthem is the right thing to do. It is alarming to hear the disregard with which players like Walker hold the fans. They simply won’t care until it starts affecting their paychecks.
Delanie Walker doesn’t think you’ll wave “Bye!” right back to him and the NFL. Will you?