Veterans Day weekend seems to have inspired a new round of fan activism against the National Football League in response to player protests during the national anthem.
A Facebook page called “Boycott the NFL,” boasting more than 227,000 followers, is asking football fans to skip watching Sunday’s games “in solidarity with veterans around the country,” the Washington Times reported.
In New Jersey, a bar in Farmingdale called Woody’s Roadside Tavern plans to hold a fundraiser for veterans and their families, instead of showing NFL games on the bar’s 20 television screens, NJ.com reported.
In Colorado, a decorated local veteran recently turned down an invitation from the Denver Broncos to be honored during Sunday night’s game against the New England Patriots, Fox 31 reported.
And a conservative watchdog group called 2ndVote is asking fans to “stiff-arm the NFL,” according to the Washington Times.
“We’re sending the National Football League, its corporate sponsors, and the television networks a message this Veterans Day weekend!” 2ndVote told the newspaper. “Americans are sick of the disrespectful National Anthem protests that the NFL has not only allowed to continue, but has institutionalized in pregame ceremonies.”
The league and its players union announced Saturday there would be “no change” in league policy regarding the on-field protests, which began last season with a one-man effort by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who said he wanted to draw attention to police mistreatment of African-Americans across the U.S.
The protests broadened across the league in September, after President Donald Trump told an Alabama crowd that any player protesting during the anthem should be removed from the field.
The president and other critics argued that the playing of the national anthem was the wrong time for protests, regardless of the reason, because the song represents U.S. national unity and respect for those who serve in the military.
Rob Johnson, a co-owner of the New Jersey bar, told NJ.com that their anti-NFL event was inspired by a regular customer who served in Vietnam and felt disrespected by NFL players taking a knee during the anthem.
"While it'll probably cost us some money, we thought it was more important to stand with our veterans," Johnson told NJ.com.
"While it'll probably cost us some money, we thought it was more important to stand with our veterans."
About 22,000 people have pledged on Facebook that they plan to turn off the television during Sunday’s games, the Washington Times reported.
But the newspaper speculated that NFL players may forgo their protests this weekend because of Veterans Day. It noted that Seattle Seahawks players who previously protested opted not to do so during Thursday night’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.
The NFL players union said its members planned to observe a moment of silence for veterans at Sunday’s games, while various teams planned other Veterans Day tributes, the Times reported.