Former host of Dirty Jobs, and current host of The Way I Heard It podcast was asked to weigh in on the current NFL controversy by a fan, and as usual, Rowe’s take is so full of common sense that our cup runneth over.
In one of this “Off the Wall” Q&A posts on his Facebook page, Rowe was asked by a fan named Robert Amon what he thought of the NFL kneelers, and Trump’s comments in regards tot he controversy.
“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?” asked Amon.
Rowe responded by remind us that the real controversy here isn’t that people are kneeling during anthems, or that presidents are suggesting those who do kneel should be fired from their teams. The real controversy lies in the fact that none of the leaders in this scenario, be it the president or the team owners, remember that they answer to us, the reason they have these jobs in the first place.
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, or the players right to protest. 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.
I felt a similar bemusement when the Commissioner issued his response, followed by the President of the Player’s Union. Their comments – along with the comments of many of the players themselves – were perfectly reasonable, perfectly understandable, and perfectly in keeping with their first amendment rights. But they were also perfectly arrogant. Because they too, presuppose that millions of fans will continue to watch them play a game – no matter what.
Rowe went on to remind Amon — and everyone reading his words — that at the end of the day, it’s the people who punish or reward everyone from players to politicians, whether we’re voting at the ballot, or voting with our wallet.
“But here’s the thing, Rob,” said Rowe. “The fans of professional football are not powerless – they’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 is correct. Many of the responses seen in the media make it feel like NFL players are capable of disrespecting the country that made them so wealthy and famous with impunity. But they aren’t. While it is good to respond with arguments against these player’s claims and assumptions, all we have to do in order to get them to understand that disrespecting the country has consequences is stop rewarding them with our attention.
Our attention equals dollars. We purchase tickets to the games. We buy their memorabilia. We tune into their games where advertisers with the league show us their product.
We take our attention, they lose their money. They learn a lesson, and we get our game back.