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Mike Rowe: If Fans Want NFL Players To Stop Kneeling, They Should Turn Off The TV

‘The fans of professional football are not powerless – we’re just not yet offended enough to turn the channel.’


Someone asked Mike Rowe what he thought about the ongoing controversy over many NFL players’ decision to kneel during the national anthem at games. The “Dirty Jobs” host did not hold back. Robert Amon, a Facebook fan of Rowe’s, wrote this:

Hey Mike – I know you avoid politics, (thanks!) and I remember your rant on the Colt’s leaving Baltimore. (As a former Brown’s fan, I feel your pain.) But I gotta ask – what’s happening to professional football, and what do you make of Trump’s comments about those who refuse to stand during the national anthem?

In response, “The Way I Heard It” podcast host explained in a lengthy Facebook post that the power over the protest is in viewers’ hands. If football fans really want the kneeling to stop, they can make it happen — by turning off their TVs.

“In democracies, we the people get the government we deserve,” Rowe wrote. “We also get the celebrities we deserve, the artists we deserve, and the athletes we deserve. Because ultimately, we the people get to decide who and what gets our attention, and who and what does not.”

Rowe explained that he was disappointed in Donald Trump’s assertion that kneeling NFL players should be fired because it assumes that team owners and league commissioners are in charge of the game, when it is in fact the football fan who is in charge.

I was disappointed last night, to hear President Trump encourage owners to fire players who refuse to stand for the anthem. Not because I dispute the owners’ right to do so, and not because I would grieve the dismissal of anyone who chooses to disrespect our flag. I was disappointed because the President’s comments presuppose that the owners are in charge of the game. They’re not. We are. We decide what to watch, and that decision – far more than any other consideration – will determine the what the owners choose to do. And that in turn will affect what the players choose to do.

As the leader of the country, the President had an opportunity to remind us that The NFL, the networks who broadcast their games, and all of the players – standers and kneelers alike – work for us. He might have also used the occasion to remind us that he too, serves at our pleasure.

[. . .]

The fans of professional football are not powerless – we’re just not yet offended enough to turn the channel. Should that ever change in a meaningful way – if for instance, a percentage of football fans relative to those players who chose to kneel during today’s games, chose to watch something else next Sunday – I can assure you…the matter would be resolved by Monday.

Rowe concluded the post with a video of “some actual heroes – combat veterans who made sure today’s athletes have the right to kneel for our flag, or honor it.”

You can read his remarks in full here.