Bob Casciola, a former college coach at Princeton, UCONN and Dartmouth and former president of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame, published a book in August — “First and Forever” — in defense of our great American institution.
The book chronicles the lives of former college players (yours truly included) whose lives have undergone dramatic changes as a direct result of the opportunities afforded by football.
I, of course, wanted to support the book and accordingly placed a brief post on my Facebook page. Almost immediately, a number of negative responses were received along the lines of “Sorry Bob, we are done with the NFL.” I was startled as nowhere in my post did I mention pro football.
As noted above, the book is not about pro football, it’s about … football. Alas, I edited my original post to clarify that fact. My immediate takeaway: The NFL’s public relations problems are far from over. See, for example, police unions in South Florida recently decided to boycott Miami Dolphins games in response to a number of Dolphins players kneeling prior to an exhibition game.
“The NFL’s public relations problems are far from over.”
(And yes, I use the vintage term — “exhibition game” — to describe these rip-off games wherein NFL owners charge full price for what amounts to boring scrimmages – half empty stadiums speak to this annual phenomenon.)
Now add to the mix Nike’s regrettable decision to include Colin Kaepernick in their new ad campaign. My initial reaction upon hearing the news was one of anger and frustration.
Anger because there are so many other players who would fit the job description of groundbreaking, principled football players (Jim Brown, Pat Tillman). Now compare these names to a second string quarterback barely hanging on in the NFL.
Frustration because the attempted narrative is continuously misapplied. All will remember a hyper-defensive NFL wrapping themselves in patriotic themes (especially the flag) in the immediate aftermath of last season’s kneeling protests.
It seemed every pre-game ceremony would include a gigantic American flag covering the entire field. The NFL wanted its fans to know it just loves those who volunteer to go into harm’s way in order to protect our freedoms. All of which is a wonderful notion, but not germane to Kaepernick’s protest.
Recall Kaepernick’s original comments. His protest was not …