Both the NFL and the players are wrong

I have been a proud Baltimore Ravens season ticket holder for the past 21 years, and as of today I have sold my season tickets and seat licenses (“Preston: Attendance is down at Ravens games. The reasons for no-shows are up," Oct. 16). It is a sad day for me as football has always been a way of life in my family.

My father played 10 years in the NFL, and some of my fondest memories are getting to meet NFL legends who were my heroes growing up. I was a die-hard Raider’s fan growing up after meeting one of my father’s teammates, Jim Plunkett. As a youngster I would be in tears when the Raiders lost. Once Baltimore announced that the Ravens were coming to town, I decided to buy season tickets as I always had a true love affair with football and the NFL.

I recently calculated approximately how much money I have spent on NFL games, tailgates, concessions and merchandise since becoming a season ticket holder and came up with a number of right around $240,000. The more I look at this number the more I am disgusted with myself; this could have paid for my children’s college education. My dog’s name is Torrey (after Torrey Smith), my previous dog’s name was Ravyn (Yes with a Y she was a girl), license plate on my car says the same. Basement is completely decorated in purple with Super Bowl memorabilia (been to both), pictures and anything and everything you can ever imagine related to the Ravens. I have told my family when I pass to cremate me and spread my ashes around Lot H, as some of my best memories have been tailgating with family and friends. I realize I am only one of thousands of rabid fans who want nothing more than to let off some steam after a hard week of work and watch my favorite team play.

This all came to an end for me when I saw Ravens players kneeling on foreign soil. I immediately sent an email to the Ravens via my online season ticket holder account, as did my wife. To my dismay neither of us received a return email of any kind. Now I have worked in sales my entire life and I know the worst possible thing you can do is ignore a problem; it will only increase in size and eventually bubble over to a disaster and a lost customer. Not a word, even though I am a 21-year, die-hard customer who always paid on time, had four seats and a parking pass. Appears the customer is not always right, or maybe the NFL owners were just hoping they could put their head under the covers and this entire thing would just fade away.

Regardless of whether I agree with the reason for the protest, most folks are offended by the form/time of the protest. I hear daily that it has nothing to do with the flag or military, but obviously millions of people feel it is disrespectful, so why not change the timing or try something different which does not offend your customers? Also if you go back to the original messenger it does have to do with the flag. Look up his original comments. The typical answer from kneelers is that protest is supposed to make people uncomfortable and start a conversation or dialogue for change. Does anyone believe this is actually happening or is the racial divide just getting worse than it has been in the past 50 years?

I have watched NFL players try to articulate why they are protesting and some like Malcolm Jenkins (Eagles) are actually pushing for specific legislation, which I respect. Most however have no clue what to do next and not even sure who or what they are protesting for or against (President Donald Trump, racial equality, racism, police etc.). The NFL players have this huge microphone to tell the world what they want and it feels like someone forgot to plug it in because all I hear is their problem with no solution.

The NFL is the biggest bunch of hypocrites too! They stood behind their players but very few of them actually agree with their protest; we all know it is all about their bottom line period. As much as I disagree with the man who started this protest, you can’t tell me he is not being blackballed. Owners don’t want to touch him with a 10-foot pole because they know their fan base will revolt (interesting they seem to understand their customers on this one). Behind closed doors the owners are furious they did not make a decision to ban not standing for anthem in the off season.

These players are nothing but pawns for billionaire NFL owners. You rarely hear about CTE anymore, but many of the retired players are facing a living hell now. My father who played for 10 years is now facing early onstage dementia and getting help from NFL is like trying to figure out tax codes. The mighty shield once again just wants to keep using these players’ bodies and lives to their benefit; at least the current players are getting paid big bucks for it, not so much for the older veterans. My father waddles like a penguin when he walks due to two torn up knees and can’t lift his right hand higher than his shoulder. He is a fighter and a competitor like no other and will never give up, not that the league he helped become one of the richest and most powerful institutions cares about him anymore.

I have three children, one who plays football at a local high school. A week ago they played a team that refused to come on the field for the anthem. What are these kids learning from their parents, coaches and NFL players? Are they educated about this subject if you asked them, do they really know what they are protesting? I have spent countless hours researching Department of Justice, FBI, and other credible source statistics and have my own conclusions and opinions. If you are going to protest, you have to educate yourself on every aspect and need to be able to speak intelligently about the subject, if not you are embarrassing yourself.

Racism certainly exists and there are injustices, but in order to get to the heart of this issue there has to be compromise and awareness on both sides. People need to admit that there are cultural issues in certain communities that have to be addressed as well, the fault does not solely fall on rogue police officers. Family values, respect and education appear to be the most important assets to success in this country, but I rarely hear that muttered by anyone kneeling. Solutions to problems occur much more frequently when both parties are working toward a common goal and are willing to admit fault in order to work on a resolution.

I like many others have stopped watching football games, will not purchase anymore NFL merchandise and now have a lot more free time to spend with my wife and children on Sundays, Monday nights, and Thursday nights. Thank you NFL, for this never would have happened if you valued your customers as much as employees!

Bobby Windsor

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