Freud on the NFL: Why does it matter that a player stand or kneel? |

Freud on the NFL: Why does it matter that a player stand or kneel?

Vice President Mike Pence briefly attends a San Francisco 49ers-Indianapolis Colts game on Sunday, Oct. 8. The vice president apparently was shocked that players were taking a knee during the national anthem, and left in disgust.
Michael Conroy | Daily file photo | AP

Freud’s Fives

Top five

1. Chiefs (5-0) … Not many questions here.

2. Packers (4-1) … Aaron Rodgers is pretty scary.

3. Eagles (4-1) … Is Carson Wentz ready for a his close up?

4. Patriots (3-2) … Still not dead.

5. Broncos (4-1) … Really, they should roll the Giants.

Bottom five

1. Giants (0-5) … It takes a lot to move the Niners out of this spot.

2. 49ers (0-5) … Thank you, New York Giants.

3. Browns (0-5) … Cleveland’s highest ranking of the year.

4. Chargers (1-4) … They beat the Giants.

5. Bears (1-4) … Let the Mitch Trubisky Era begin.

The Broncos were off last week, so you got to pay more attention to the rest of the league, such as:

• A Miami Dolphins assistant coach snorting something powdery on a video.

• Injuries, injuries, injuries.

• And Anthem-Gate, 3.0.

Enough with players taking a knee. Make it stop. Please, make it stop.

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What the hell does it matter that players take a knee or stand at attention?

• Vice President Mike Pence got his panties in a bunch because he went to the 49ers-Colts game and was shocked — shocked! — to find players taking a knee. The Niners don’t lead the NFL in much, but in players kneeling they do. Were he still alive, Claude Rains would play Pence in the upcoming movie.

That was a stunt, and nothing more. And for all of you who don’t like players protesting at football games because football shouldn’t have politics, well, oops, the Republican Veep just injected politics into sacred football.

• Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says that he’s going to bench anyone who doesn’t stand for the anthem. Let’s make something clear — Jerry does what’s best for Jerry. When President Trump first attacked NFL players for taking a knee before Week 3, Jones took a knee with his team before the anthem in Phoenix.

If Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant or Sean Lee decide to take a knee this Sunday, then there is no way on God’s green earth that Jerry would bench them. Jones is just engaged in some CYA because the league is worried about a perceived boycott by people who are so outraged by players taking a knee that they’ll stop watching football all together.

• We call bull on that.

People love their football, NFL, college and high school, and, as indignant as they may be, they’re still watching. Football is as close to a national religion as this country has. And if people are truly boycotting the NFL, then they sure are spending a lot of time on Facebook and other social media sites testifying to that fact. (The lady/poster doth protest too much, methinks.)

Yes, ratings are down, part of an annual trend. That’s cord-cutting, people. Nielsen ratings measure only televisions attached to walls. Technology is changing the way people watch everything — smartphones, computers and other assorted streaming services aren’t measured in those numbers.

What’s really the matter?

Let’s get down to it. What is this really about?

And stop with the “protesting the anthem disrespects the veterans” hooey.

Whatever branch of service, a person takes the enlistment oath.

“I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies …”

There’s nothing in that oath about the anthem or the flag. Our military, past and present, swears to defend the Constitution, which happens to include the First Amendment, allowing free speech.

Players taking a knee during the anthem are not disrespecting veterans, the flag, America, Mom or apple pie, but exercising their right to protest.

It’s their right. And, yes, it’s an owner’s right to cut or bench those players because the NFL is a private business.

However, back to the Jerry Jones threat, NFL owners care more about winning, so if prominent players take a knee, they still ain’t going anywhere. The third-string punt returner? OK, maybe he’s gone. But, by and large, it’s a bogus threat.

Are we really getting ourselves in a tizzy over a piece of cloth and a song?

That flag is not our country

The flag and the anthem are embodiments of our country, not the essence of our nation. The heart of our country is, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Said Constitution does not mention the words, “flag” or “national anthem.” If you want to get technical, rules for the flag are in United States Code, Title 4, Chapter 1. Those regulations say that a flag should not be worn on a sports uniform (whoops), worn as clothing (whoops) or flown horizontally as it is displayed before NFL games (whoops).

But back to the Constitution, that’s what binds us, ideas of freedom, what the government can and cannot do in our lives. It’s that Constitution, not a flag or anthem, that has brought us all here from different lands and cultures, looking for a better life.

And we don’t get to pick and chose the Constitution cafeteria-style. My profession is based in the First Amendment, so I’m partial to it. I’m not a big fan of guns or the Second Amendment, but I’ve got to live with that. District of Columbia vs. Heller, whose majority opinion was written by the late associate justice Antonin Scalia, has established gun ownership as a constitutional right, even though with every mass shooting in this country I question its basis.

There’s also a vocal group of this country that wants everyone else to respect the flag and stand for it. U.S. vs. Eichman, with Scalia, not exactly Mr. Bleeding Heart Liberal, concurring, says that burning the flag is protected speech.

(This is your weekly SCOTUS trivia: Yes, Scalia was for gun ownership and reluctantly flag-burning. Interesting, no?)

While burning the flag is way too over the top for me, just as I acknowledge the right to own guns, though I find it questionable, maybe it’s time for people who wrap themselves in the flag to try to see that a simple kneel during the anthem is not the equivalent of burning the stars and stripes.

Those who take a knee love this country just as much as you do. They just want to form “a more perfect union” and “establish justice” as the preamble to the Constitution says.

Discuss this with someone as it’s on to Week 6.

And, yep, I’ll take the Broncos over what’s left of the New York Football Giants.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, and @cfreud.

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