Editor's note: The following column first appeared on The Resurgent website.
Vice President Mike Pence has been an Indianapolis Colts fan for quite awhile. He served the state of Indiana in Congress during the record-setting heyday of Peyton Manning. So it was unsurprising to find out that Pence planned to be at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis yesterday when the Colts officially retired Manning’s jersey and inducted him into their Ring of Honor during halftime of their game against the San Francisco 49ers.
But the vice president’s homecoming to honor the legendary quarterback was cut short when 15-20 players for the 49ers decided to disrespect the American flag, continuing their pregame publicity stunt by kneeling. Pence left the game and tweeted out his explanation:
“I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem…While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem.”
The reaction was largely predictable, with fans tired of the political posturing of overpaid sports stars applauding, and social justice warriors condemning. What was extraordinarily funny, however, was the way that the sports media humiliated themselves in responding.
The vice president stayed, stood, and honored the flag and anthem while it was performed. He chose not to stay and honor the players who disrespected that flag with his presence at their game – like countless other fans have done as well. This isn’t that difficult to understand.
Former CBS Sports writer and current Indy Star sports columnist Gregg Doyel, a card-carrying left-wing activist, immediately registered his disgust by cranking out an article suggesting that, “Mike Pence used the Colts to spray paint Donald Trump’s political graffiti.” His hyperbole got him an invitation to appear on CNN’s "New Day" with fellow leftist Chris Cuomo.
He was far from alone in his indignation, though. In fact, the entire Indianapolis Star staff, which has notoriously opposed and besmirched Pence for years, apparently saw their opportunity to issue a collective, coordinated strike.
Opinion chief Tim Swarens pushed out a column accusing Pence of demonstrating a lack of leadership. Sports writer Zac Keefer kept everyone informed how much per hour it cost taxpayers to fly Air Force 2, and whined that the, “Whole thing was planned.” But the most hysterical response went to their colleague Stephen Holder who quoted NFL reporter Mike Freeman’s tweet calling Pence’s action “pre-planned outrage” and “fake outrage,” adding, “Total publicity stunt IMO (in my opinion).”
Wait a minute. Holder (and Keefer, and Doyel), have fallen all over themselves applauding the publicity stunt of players taking a knee during the anthem for weeks now. Why are some publicity stunts more equal than others?
Local radio star Tony Katz, who fills in occasionally for nationally syndicated Dana Loesch, asked Holder to clarify whether it qualifies as a publicity stunt when players kneel. Holder’s response was choice:
“Probably to you, because you either aren’t listening to them or don’t care. Good day.”
Sorry, but that’s just too funny. I’m guessing Holder doesn’t even realize that the exact same thing can be said about his response to Pence: Holder either isn’t listening to Pence when he explains why he left, or he doesn’t care. The vice president stayed, stood, and honored the flag and anthem while it was performed. He chose not to stay and honor the players who disrespected that flag with his presence at their game – like countless other fans have done as well. This isn’t that difficult to understand.
Keefer, Doyel, and Holder don’t want anyone telling players they have to stand for the anthem. But they’re totally fine with telling the vice president he has to stay for the game. This might be why they write about balls for a living.