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For all the NFL's talk of “unity,” there are more than a handful of players, not to mention league commissioner Roger Goodell, who don't seem interested in respecting the values of Americans who hold the flag and the national anthem dear, let alone the millions of citizens who sacrificed for our freedom.

Goodell, for his part, insisted in his statement to the president that the National Football League was promoting “unity” with its protests:

The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. [...]

Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.

This isn't about community activism. It's not about free speech rights. It's about purposefully allowing a protest to take place during a time set aside to pay respect to the nation and those who sacrifice for our freedoms. Those who hold the national anthem up to be a message of division and oppression are ill-informed.

President Donald Trump may have used inflammatory language to make his point about an issue many Americans feel passionately about. After all, calling players “S.O.B.s” might not be the most prudent way to foster a dialogue about sensitive racial issues.

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The aftermath saw at least 200 players, and several team owners, turn out en masse on Sunday to show fans they stand in solidarity when it comes to issues that are long on hyperbole, and sadly, too often short on facts.

Many fans, fed up with turning their beloved national pastime into social activism central, are turning off games in droves. NFL ratings are down 11 percent since the 2016 season. There are reports of half-empty stadiums, and even lifelong fans burning their jerseys. A Buffalo Bills stadium worker quit his job in disgust. A national anthem singer for the Ravens resigned because he no longer felt “welcome.”

You know, “unifying.”

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Tennessee Titans player Delanie Walker, whose team participated in the national anthem protest by skipping it altogether, gave a one-word message for upset NFL fans: “Bye.”

The Tennessean reported the dismissive response from the Titans player.

“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,” Walker said. ”…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."

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Walker went further:

“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," Walker added.

If that's the kind of “respect” and “unity” that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the teams and players are selling to the American people, a lot more fans might be heading for the exits.

Here's a one-word response to the NFL and Roger Goodell's handling of this matter: “Disgrace.”

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.

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