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'You can do that crap somewhere else'

By staff and wire reporters • Updated Sep 25, 2017 at 11:28 PM

The recent protests involving professional football players and the national anthem has caused the VFW Post 2743 in Norwalk to ban the televising of NFL games until further notice.

Here is the notice posted on Facebook:

“It comes with sadness and trepidation that the Firelands VFW Post 2743 on Milan Avenue will no longer televise NFL.

“This decision may be revisited if the current anti-American displays by the players are stopped. The players and owners of the NFL have confused politics with patriotism. Although we stand for their right to express themselves we take offense at the unpatriotic manner in which they chose to do so. There are other avenues they could take to express their concerns on what they feel are injustices within our society without displaying disrespect to our veterans, our country and all it stands for.

“This policy will also affect any other professional sports that desire to follow the path of disrespect the NFL has chosen.

“God Bless America!”

On Sunday, some NFL players in games across the nation knelt or linked arms while others stayed in the locker room during the national anthem.

On Monday, two patrons at the VFW on Milan Avenue, said they did not agree with the players’ way of drawing attention to racism and social injustice.

“It’s disrespectful to everybody, what they’re doing,” Norwalk resident Myrna Crubaugh said.

“Everybody in their family tree somewhere, at one point in time, has fought under our flag, has at one time or another stood in a stadium or been in school and said the pledge of allegiance and it’s just disrespectful,” she said. “My daddy fought in the war and the vets here. I can’t speak for them, but I’m sure they’ll agree with me, I think it’s a dividing tactic that they’re doing. You can do that crap somewhere else. You have to do that in the sport or at a sport (event). You never did it before. It’s like a tradition, you know? It’s like the statues they want to take down. ... You’re erasing our history. I’ve taught my kids to respect the flag and to respect the United States and that’s what they do.”

Crubaugh said she “agrees” with Trump -— the NFL players should be fired or fined. She praised the president, adding “he needs to get involved.”

“You do not take it upon yourself to change a tradition like that when I always thought standing up and crossing your heart and showing respect for the flag and national anthem was part of being an American,” Crubaugh said. “If you don’t want to stand up and support fellow countrymen for fighting, then you probably shouldn’t be in the United States of America and that’s probably about all I could say.”

Vicki Molesky, also of Norwalk, agreed.

“I feel that Trump is correct. You’re fired,” she said. “This is their job. They’re getting paid to entertain us basically. There’s a time and place to protest things and this is their job. To kneel and disrespect the flag and the anthem when that’s not what they’re protesting — it’s not the time and the place. There’s a better form to do that. You want to make a difference, do that. Go out there, stand for the anthem. Don’t kneel. Put your hand on your heart, then go out into your community and make a difference. Put your money where your mouth is and go make a difference in your communities. 

“I’m for it (firing players) because I’ve thought it for a long time — you should be fired. You’re going to kneel and you’re paid for the game you’re kneeling at  —boom it goes to charity. Pick one it’s going to it. And that’s the way it should be.”

An unscientific poll on the Reflector website revealed that 74 percent of the more than 130 participants sided with Trump over the NFL players in this controversy.

Protests during the national anthem to draw attention to racism and social injustice, which began during the summer of 2016 with then-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, had slowed to a trickle this season.

Trump reignited them with inflammatory comments Friday at a political rally before a nearly all-white crowd in Alabama in which he challenged NFL owners to fire players who refuse to stand for the anthem. Most of the players who have done so are black.

He amplified the furor Saturday on Twitter by criticizing other black athletes, including Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, and revoked the NBA champion team’s invitation to the White House.

On Sunday, even team owners who donated millions of dollars to Trump’s presidential run publicly rejected his comments.

“I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the president,” said New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a close friend of Trump who contributed $1 million to his inauguration.

A short time later, NFL players provided their first physical response with the 9:30 a.m. EDT kickoff of the Baltimore-Jacksonville game at Wembley Stadium in London. Players on both teams either knelt or locked arms in solidarity.

In that human chain on the Jaguars’ sideline was team owner Shad Khan, who had also donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration.

Late in the day, preparing to return to Washington from a weekend at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., Trump said to reporters that his remarks had “nothing to do with race.”

“I never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag,” he said.

In the brief exchange with reporters and in a tweet earlier in the afternoon, he also seemed to leave himself room to back away from a fight that had left him isolated from his prominent supporters in the NFL and elected officials, saying that the players had shown “great solidarity.”

“Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!” he declared on Twitter.

Earlier, also on Twitter, he had said: “NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.”

Although Trump retweeted an encouragement to boycott the NFL, he told reporters he would not call on his supporters to do so. “They can do whatever they want,” he said.

Whether the national anthem protests have had a significant impact on the NFL’s ratings is a hotly debated topic for which the evidence on either side is slight. Several factors may have hurt ratings last season, including concern over widespread concussions suffered by NFL players.

The players had little to lose by this display, especially since they had the support of most of their owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell, who called the president’s words “divisive.”

For many, the day’s protests were more about Trump’s comments than the national anthem or racial divide.

“I can’t stand and support something where our leader of this country is just acting like a jerk,” said Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sam Farmer and Laura King of the Los Angeles Times (TNS) contributed to this story.

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