NOTE: Hope you can attend one of these book talk events on Evangelicalism and the Decline of American Politics.
Sunday, September 23, 10:30 a.m. – St. Cloud Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Monday, September 24, 7:00 p.m. – First Christian Church, Ames, IA
Tuesday, September 25, 7:00 p.m. – Ames Public Library
Tuesday, October 2, 7:00 p.m., Majors & Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis

(The Trump circus is wearing me down so I am taking a break from it this week to write about, of all things, football, specifically, the NFL. But you might notice a couple of passing references to him.)

The National Football League has turned the sport of football into a money machine and in the process corrupted it beyond redemption.

I seldom watch it anymore, but that’s for another day.

I write as one who does actually know something about the game. I attended the University of Richmond in Virginia on a football scholarship (my only means of paying for college), and was a quarterback with dreams of the NFL in my head until I took a hit in a game against Va. Tech that tore up my knee. Back then there was no such thing as arthroscopic surgery.

We were no match for teams like Tech anyway. Richmond was a student athlete school and has stayed that way. Back then we had classes six days a week, which meant I would go to classes on Saturday mornings and then play teams like Va. Tech in the afternoon.

I loved the game when I went to college, but that’s when football was actually a game. Today it is a business, certainly at the NFL level, and a corrupt one at that.

The NFL shutting out Colin Kaepernick and his friend Eric Reed for taking a knee to protest racial injustice arises from that corruptness. Let me put that in context.

In 2014 Zigi Wilf, owner of the Minnesota Vikings, was convicted in New Jersey of fraud, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and violating the New Jersey civil racketeering statutes and was order to pay $85 million in damages.

You know what the NFL’s reaction was? Whether or not this judgment would impair Wilf’s ability to pay his share of the new billion dollar Vikings stadium.

Kaepernick can’t take a knee as a principled act of protest, but Zigi Wilf can be convicted of fraud the judge in the case described as motivated by “bad faith and evil motive” and the only concern the NFL has is the team’s financial bottom line.

This is the organization that is afraid to stand up to Donald Trump politicizing this issue and is, instead, de facto banning Kaepernick and Reed from the league by making sure no team offers them a contract (and both were starters for the 49ers).

In their conflict with the NFL, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reed are showing who has integrity and who doesn’t.

What the NFL should do is to hold them up for kids all over the country to see as heroes.

That is who they are, two men showing exemplary courage in sacrificing their careers for the sake of others. That is the very definition of the word “hero.”

They have been accused of showing disrespect for the flag when in fact they stood tall by taking a knee out of love for what that flag symbolizes.

In his acceptance speech for being named the recipient of Amnesty International’s 2018 Ambassador’s Conscience Award Kaepernick said that love was at the root of his resistance, love he and Eric and others were expressing collectively to combat collective forms of systemic racial oppression.

He concluded his acceptance speech by saying, “Seeking the truth, finding the truth, telling the truth, and living the truth has been and always will be what guides my actions.”

This is what he and others working with him are teaching kids who attend the Know Your Rights Camp that raises awareness about higher education, self-employment, and instructions on how to properly interact with law enforcement in various situations.

That’s what he is doing to live the truth he seeks.

I wonder what his critics are doing, especially owners like Jerry Jones of the Cowboys and Zigi Wilf of the Vikings, and everyone who calls him unpatriotic.

More than that, who could say with a straight face that Donald Trump before whom the NFL has taken a knee has ever tried to seek the truth, find the truth, tell the truth, and live the truth.

You and I both know the answer to that question.

So should the NFL. Instead, though, it has chosen to take a knee of shame.