Your teenage years were a struggle. The only thing that made you stand out is you weighed 225 pounds and could run 40 yards in 4.2 seconds while carrying a football.
Your best friend was just like you, except he didn’t play football. You were recruited by all the big colleges. Your best friend worked double shifts at Mickey D’s. College was not an option for him. On the day you signed with Big State University, your best friend signed paperwork with his Army recruiter. You went to summer workouts. He went to basic training.
You spent the next four years living in the athletic dorm, eating at the training table. Your best friend was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. While you were in college, he deployed to Iraq once and Afghanistan twice.
You went to the NFL combine and scored off the charts. You were drafted in the first round and your agent immediately went to work. You signed for $16 million. Your best friend re-enlisted in the Army for four more years. As a combat-tested sergeant, he will be paid $32,000 per year.
On Sunday, you will run into a stadium as tens of thousands of fans cheer and yell your name. For your best friend, there is little difference between Sunday and any other day of the week. There are no adoring fans, only people trying to kill him and his soldiers. Every now and then, he and his soldiers might be lucky enough to catch an NFL game on TV. When the National Anthem plays and you take a knee, they will jump to his feet and salute the television.
We are the people who buy your tickets, watch you on TV and wear your jerseys. Although we love to watch you play, we care little about your opinions until you offend us. You have the absolute right to express yourselves, but we have the absolute right to boycott you. You have insulted our flag, our country, our soldiers, our police officers and our veterans.
I am done with NFL football and encourage all like minded Americans to boycott the NFL as well.
Fiore S. Mattei
Chaplin Old Forge American Legion