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Local American Legion post bans NFL games over national anthem protests

Local American Legion post bans NFL games over national anthem protests

November 22nd, 2017 by Phillip Sitter in Local News

Several Patriot players kneel during the national anthem before Sunday's game against the Texans in Foxborough, Mass.

Photo by Associated Press /News Tribune.

Protests during the national anthem at NFL games have prompted members of the Roscoe Enloe American Legion Post 5 in Jefferson City to ban the broadcast of NFL games at its headquarters until the NFL changes its stance.

The local American Legion post made the announcement in a news release Wednesday after a unanimous vote Tuesday night.

The ban on NFL broadcasts at the post includes Sunday and weeknight games as well as the 2018 Super Bowl

While the post "recognizes this may inconvenience some patrons of our hall and club room and impact our finances, we are obligated to enforce our shared principles as it pertains to the actions of the NFL," post officials wrote in the news release.

Post 5 Commander Vince Rost said the Super Bowl party that's been an annual get-together for the past four or five years usually raises $10,000 in a night, from 100 tickets at $100 each that would always sell out — though usually about 60-80 ticketholders would actually come to the party.

After giving away $2,000 every quarter, Rost said, the Super Bowl party typically has generated a net profit of about $1,500 for the post's annual budget.

The post plans to organize an alternative event on the day of the Super Bowl "designed to promote veterans and our nation," with final details to be released later, according to the news release.

Rost acknowledged a lot of veterans have expressed support for the national anthem protests on First Amendment grounds; but as a veterans' organization, he said, the post's membership has a constitutional right not to support the "misdirected" methods of protest NFL players have been using.

Regardless of the issues players are protesting, Rost said, "that's not the way to do it," and there are other forums.

Then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the NFL players' protest movement last season when he refused to stand for the national anthem "to protest racial inequality in the U.S. and the treatment of African Americans by police," The Washington Post reported.

Kaepernick was not signed by an NFL team this season.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that sources close to the NFL and team owners "believe there is a strong possibility they will enact an offseason change to the league's national anthem policy if players' protests during the anthem persist through the end of the season, reverting to a previous approach of keeping players in the locker room while the anthem is played."

Though players and sometimes full teams have remained off the field for the anthem this season, the NFL has not fined or otherwise disciplined them, the Washington Post added.

The NFL has barred or disciplined players' on-field expressions in the past. CBS Sports reported last year that after the shooting in Dallas, Texas, that killed members of the Dallas Police Department, the NFL barred the Dallas Cowboys from wearing helmet decals honoring the fallen officers. Rost cited this as another incident that has bothered him and members of Post 5.

CBS Sports also reported that the league fined then-Chicago Bears player Brandon Marshall "more than $10,000 for wearing green shoes to raise awareness for mental-health issues." The league also reportedly barred Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams from "wearing pink all season long to honor his mother, who died of breast cancer."

Rost said while he has limited knowledge of the NFL's rules and players' agreements in their union contracts, when it comes to the anthem protests, he believes rules on the books are not being enforced because teams and the league don't want to affect broadcast ratings and merchandise sales by benching some of their best players.

However, for him and the Roscoe Enloe post's members, there's more to life than money. "We want folks to know money is not something that's going to keep our country free," Rost said.

He added that the post's members have felt compelled to stand up for values "that have kept our country free" — with the news release adding the players' protests have disrespected "our flag, national anthem and national symbols."

Rost said a copy of the Roscoe Enloe post's motion was sent Wednesday to the NFL's head office.

Meanwhile, he said, signs have been posted on all televisions at the post explaining that NFL broadcasts will not be shown.

"These changes remain in effect until the NFL changes its support of these protests and can only be rescinded by a majority vote of the Roscoe Enloe American Legion Post 5 membership," the post's news release said.

Post 5 cited itself as one of the largest posts in Missouri, with close to 1,000 members.