Recently, NFL anthem protests reached a climax when dozens of players opted to kneel or sit during the pregame national anthem. While the protests were already becoming increasingly popular, many players decided to participate after President Trump urged them not to.
The reaction across the country was split, though according to a survey, most Americans were not in favor of the protests. Since last week’s games, there have been several drastic measures taken either for or against the NFL as an association.
Nike became the first official sponsor to speak out about the protests, saying that everyone has a right to their own opinion. On the opposite side, rumors surfaced about sponsors removing their support of the NFL.
More companies made drastic moves as well. DirecTV made national headlines by choosing to refund everyone who had purchased NFL subscriptions. Eventually, a story emerged about a restaurant owner who made the bold move to stop airing any NFL games. That was the extent of the story, until now.
Restaurant Owner and Marine veteran Bill DeFries had consulted with his team at Beef O’Brady’s after the spike in NFL anthem protests. They decided that they would stop showing NFL games at their restaurants.
When asked about his decision, DeFries said, “It started a while ago, but it really was the effect of seeing what the players did [two Sundays ago]. I have to tell you as a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, I served to defend our country’s Constitution and free speech, and while I defend the right of every American to express their views and voice this freely, the actions demonstrated by the NFL players during the country’s national anthem — it was offensive and disrespectful to me as a proud veteran and all my fellow veterans.”
DeFries told Fox Business that he was convinced that the restaurant would take a financial hit. He said that people often went to the restaurant specifically to watch sports.
He said, “We are a family restaurant, and we have been for 13 years. And our customers are from the community. They come in here to relax and enjoy a meal and be entertained, in particular by the NFL on Sundays. But we also serve a lot of local military families and veterans, many of whom share my view on the NFL players’ actions during the national anthem. Before making this decision, I met with the leadership team to ensure we were all aligned on the issue, and we were. We knew that our sales would be negatively impacted.”
DeFries initially suffered a financial hit due to the restaurant's pre-purchased DirecTV NFL package. When he called to get a refund from the $6,000 they had spent, the company told him the refund only applied to residential customers.
Now, a turn of events has taken place. DeFries said that since his restaurants stopped airing NFL games, their sales have dramatically increased.
“Every day our sales have been up between 200 and 300 percent," he said. "People we have never seen before are driving hours to support us and the employees. We have received heart-warming and supportive phone calls, emails and direct messages from people all over the United States thanking us.”
People have been commending the restaurant and the veteran's decision on social media as well. DeFries said that it has been humbling to see the support.
He said, “It turns out the enormous amount of pride and reverence that we have for the national anthem and everything that it means to us as a free people … is shared by the vast majority of Americans.”
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