By Taking a Knee, the NFL Lays an Egg
I never thought the time would come that I would say this.
The Baltimore Ravens lost 44-7 to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result.
It has been quite a long time coming.
On the weekend after I was born at the end of October 1958, the Baltimore Colts beat the Green Bay Packers 56-0, the biggest shutout victory in the thirty-odd year history of the Baltimore Colts. That December, the Colts won their first of three World Championships during their stay in Baltimore. While obviously I have no memory of that 1958 season, I became a dyed-in-the-wool fan of Baltimore’s Colts from the age of seven, until the night they snuck out of town in the middle of the night of March 29, 1984, headed for Indianapolis. I cried for two weeks (no kidding), spent the next twelve years waiting for Baltimore’s re-entry into the National Football League, spending two of those years rooting for Baltimore’s entry into the Canadian Football League, and boycotted the NFL during all of those twelve years.
Needless to say, no one was happier than when it was announced that the Cleveland Browns were relocating to Baltimore in November of 1995. Having been spurned by the NFL since the Colts’ departure, losing two expansion bids to Charlotte and Jacksonville, I didn’t care that an established NFL franchise was leaving Cleveland for the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. After all, the franchise had the decency to return the Browns’ identity, colors and history to the shores of Lake Erie, and then took on a new persona as the Baltimore Ravens. From that day on, November 6, 1995, I was (and thought I would forever be) a dyed-in-the-wool Ravens fan. Over the next twenty-one seasons, I lived and died with the Ravens and spent an awful lot of money- installing satellite services for DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket programming, attending about a dozen games at both Memorial Stadium and M & T Bank Stadium, and buying all of the trappings of a true Baltimore Ravens fan- jerseys, t-shirts, hoodies, jackets and many other items now collecting dust in my office.
All of that- the fifty years of frequent agony and occasional ecstasy, all came to an end on Sunday, September 24, 2017. Representing the very city where the National Anthem of the United States was written in 1814, by Francis Scott Key, a number of Ravens’ players took a knee at the playing of “the Star Spangled Banner” in London’s Wembley Stadium, having received the go-ahead in a letter from their owner, Steven Bisciotti, expressing his support. Adding insult to injury, these same players then stood respectfully for the playing of “God Save the Queen,” the national anthem of Great Britain.
In an unfortunately bygone age, this would be considered nothing less than treason.
It’s not enough that these overpaid and oh-so-coddled prima donnas, who often lead less-than-pristine personal lives off of the field, would show such disrespect. They have the gall to show their lack of patriotism on a foreign field- ironically in the very same country with whom the United States was at war in 1814 when the words to the National Anthem were written. So, it is altogether fitting that the Ravens should fall flat on their “bums,” losing badly to the Jacksonville Jaguars in one of the most lopsided scores in their history.
Next week, the Baltimore Ravens will host their biggest rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Baltimore for their trans-Atlantic homecoming. Even if all (and I mean ALL) of the Ravens fans continue to stand by their team, there will be one less fan watching that, or any other NFL game, going forward. The National Football League is suffering under the weight of its own success (not to mention its own excess) and I and have nothing but utter contempt for a league of well-paid, professional athletes, their greedy owners, and the networks who have made both of them rich beyond all rhyme or reason.
Good riddance to them all!
-Drew Nickell, 24 September 2017
© 2017 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved.
author of “Bending Your Ear- a Collection of Essays on the Issues of Our Times”
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