The NFL definition of this particular penalty is as follows:
Definition: Any person (usually a player but occasionally a coach and very rarely one or more spectators) acts or speaks in a manner deemed to be intentionally harmful or especially objectionable by the game officials, or by rule. Unsportsmanlike conduct is a non-contact foul; if contact is involved it becomes a personal foul. Examples include verbal abuse of officials, and taunting, which, since 2004 in the NFL, has included any “prolonged and premeditated celebrations” by players.
Outcome: 15 yards. If committed by the defense, automatic first down.
Got that? “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” as defined by the NFL is about “any person” who “acts or speaks in a manner deemed to be intentionally harmful or especially objectionable by the game official.” And in this case? Quite clearly insulting the flag not to mention members and veterans of the American military are not deemed by the NFL as “intentionally harmful or especially objectionable.” Wow.
“The NFL has been infected by Leftist politics”
Bear this in mind as you grasp this news story with the Super Bowl set to kick off on February 4th. Over here at the Army Times is this headline:
AMVETS says NFL censored its ad against flag protests
The story says in part:
“WASHINGTON — AMVETS officials are decrying ‘corporate censorship’ from the National Football League for their decision not to run an ad in their Super Bowl program which responds to league players’ decision to kneel for the national anthem in protest of national equality issues.
The ad, which would have cost the veterans organization $30,000, features the tag “#PleaseStand” with a picture of service members saluting the American flag and information on how to donate to the congressionally-chartered organization.
Group leaders said NFL officials refused to include the ad in their Super Bowl publication, but did not issue a reason why. In a statement, AMVETS National Commander Marion Polk said the issue is one of fairness and respect.
‘Freedom of speech works both ways,’ he said. ‘We respect the rights of those who choose to protest, as these rights are precisely what our members have fought — and in many cases died — for.’
‘But imposing corporate censorship to deny that same right to those veterans who have secured it for us all is reprehensible and totally beyond the pale.’”
If anything meets the NFL’s definition of “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” it would be this rejection of an ad from a non-partisan group of American veterans merely asking for the most obvious of courtesies: Stand for the flag during the national anthem.
Let’s back up. Super Bowl LII is scheduled to feature what should be a highly anticipated showdown with Super Bowl perennial Tom Brady and the New England Patriots versus the Philadelphia Eagles. Here in Pennsylvania, to say that Eagles fans are looking forward to this is to understate.
The entire football season was something any ordinary American not to mention any NFL executive could reasonably have expected to be the traditional big sporting deal of the fall. And it wasn’t – because the NFL decided to tangle itself in Left-wing politics.
There is nothing wrong with protest. Protest is as American as apple pie. But successful protests have to be run by people who have a sense of when – and where – to protest. And if ever there was a big fail on the part of the NFL in the 2017 season it was in not grasping that the take-a-knee controversy, in which players knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality, would quickly be seen as something altogether different by NFL fans. To wit: the sight of rich athletes kneeling during a salute to the flag for which Americans have died was quickly seen by average fans as nothing less than a decided and quite intended insult to the flag – and veterans.
The reaction was predictable. It was so furious that across the pond the UK’s Daily Mail felt compelled to cover the story, headlining it this way:
‘My great uncle’s bones are lying at the bottom of Pearl Harbor’: NFL fans BURN their merchandise in disgust over anthem protests
• More than 200 players in the league knelt or sat down during the national anthem on Sunday’s NFL games including
• Teams include New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, and New England Patriots
• Only one Pittsburgh Steeler player stood on the field during anthem as remainder stayed behind in tunnel or locker room
• Now, NFL fans across the country are upset with athletes who protested
• People have filmed themselves burning their memorabilia in support of the national anthem and what it means to them
And the reaction would get worse.
No less than President Trump, a football fan who once considered buying an NFL franchise, was incensed. Never one to mince words the country heard the President this way, as headlined in his hometown New York Post:
Trump on NFL player protests: Owners should get those SOBs off the field
The Post duly reported Trump’s blunt language:
“President Trump on Friday lashed out at pro football players who don’t stand during the national anthem – and urged team owners to remove those silent protesters from the field.
Trump, appearing at a campaign rally for US Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) said he wished NFL suits would take a hard-line stance against players who take a knee while “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played before kickoff.
“We’re proud of our country, we respect our flag,” Trump told supporters in Huntsville.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag to say, `Get that son of a bitch off the field right now! Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!“
Trump then pranced around the stage, arms extended, to soak up wild applause from supporters chanting, “USA, USA, USA!”
Photos began circulating of heretofore jammed NFL stadiums with whole sections of empty seats. Not to be forgotten was television. Here’s the Fox headline that sums up the NFL’s bad news:
NFL TV ratings drop nearly 10 percent during tumultuous season
Fox began its report this way:
“National Football League executives looking to stop a ratings skid continued to lose more yardage during the 2016-2017 season, as television viewership fell 9.7 percent across all networks, according to Nielsen data.
An average NFL game was watched by 1.6 million fewer people compared to last year, declining overall from 16.5 million to 14.9 million, ESPN reported.”
You would think with all of this the NFL would not simply make it plain to players that they must take their protests off the field – where they can protest to their heart’s content – but that the NFL had no intention of insulting either the flag or its fans.
But…you would think wrong.
Now comes the news that in the most important game on the NFL schedule – the Super Bowl – the NFL is going out of its way to ban an ad from veterans that simply asks that Americans stand for the national anthem. The AMVETS ad, by the way, was run during both the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball coverage, respectively the hockey and baseball all-star games’ programs.
What effect will this have on Super Bowl ratings? We will see. But without doubt whatever else this football season has shown is that like all manner of American institutions – college campuses, federal courts, the media and more – the NFL has been infected by Leftist politics. Unsportsmanlike Conduct be damned.
Which is not just a shame. It is also Super Dumb.
The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sean Hannity or Hannity.com
Jeffrey Lord is a frequent contributor to Hannity.com. You can follow him on Twitter @realJeffreyLord