Actions have consequences, and that’s what one NFL player learned this weekend after he showed up on TV Sunday while kneeling in protest during the National Anthem. He saw himself as exercising his right to free speech, but a company that uses him as a spokesperson saw it as their right to distance themselves from him.
The majority of NFL players participating in games on Sunday joined a Colin Kaepernick-style protest that was intensified by a suggestion by President Trump that players be fired for protesting the anthem. Among the protesters was Denver Broncos’ star outside linebacker Von Miller, who dropped to one knee along with many of his teammates when the anthem played, according to ABC 7.
A few players raised their fists in resistance, and only a handful actually stood and placed their hands over their hearts in respect for our nation and its flag. 28-year-old Miller not only knelt, but he linked arms with other protesting players. He was interviewed about his decision.
"It was [Trump’s] choice of words. I felt like he was pointing out a few guys. I felt like it was an attack on the National Football League, talking about ratings and all this other stuff. This my life. I love everything about the NFL. I try not to get into any politics and social issues and just play ball. But I felt like it was an attack," Miller explained.
But Miller is not solely a football player. He’s a spokesperson for a large Denver and Colorado Springs-area car dealership, and they did not appear to be happy with his message. According to ABC 7, the Phil Long chain of dealerships seemed to make it clear Monday that they had dropped Miller as a spokesperson and that the multiple ads that had created featuring him would be pulled.
While some ads were pulled off their YouTube channel, not all of them were, and the company released a vague statement later in the day claiming that Miller had not been fired. However, they did not fully condone his actions either.
According to CBS Denver, Phil Long Dealerships said the following:
"We are evaluating the events of the weekend. It is important to state that we haven’t fired Von. We are in the middle of contract renewal and this weekend’s events remind us that sometimes we feel that we best represent ourselves. We support Von and his first amendment rights, we know Von and he’s a good person. He donated a police car to his hometown police dept. All that notwithstanding when we bring in celebrities to represent us we run the risk of being misrepresented.
"We, like millions of Americans are concerned and will respond consistently with our values as a proud American company founded by a war hero (Phil Long). While we can’t control the actions of others we can be responsible for how we support our nation and community. That is why, years ago, our principal owner, Jay Cimino, founded the Mount Carmel Veteran’s Service center, and is supported by all Phil Long Dealerships. We support this cause not just with our words, but financially as well, and it is serving hundreds of veterans in need right here in Colorado. This would be a great time for our community to show support for our military community by supporting this cause or others that continue to serve them after they serve us. https://veteranscenter.org/"
What do you think about this? In related news, former Gov. Mike Huckabee just explained why punishing players for kneeling during the National Anthem would not violate their right to free speech.