There are few profiles in courage these days. Americans are enervated, bullied by politicized medicos, ruthless cancel culture and violent America haters who’ve been eagerly abetted by media that have all but dropped the pretense of objectivity. Already hollowed out by creeping progressivism and terrified of social media infamy, our institutions’ default response is groveling before the mob. Nowhere is this more apparent than professional sports leagues.
The craven gestures of MLB and the NFL (the Yangtze Doodle Dandies of the NBA are a whole other problem) make the sports world’s few dissenting individuals seem all the more principled. And we all saw the public castration of Drew Brees for daring to hold last year’s opinion on kneeling during the national anthem. It takes a lot of pluck to stand up to the mob.
Here are a few active and retired sports figures who refuse to go along to get along -- some suffering predictable media character assassination because of it.
Stephon Tuitt. The Steelers defensive end is pretty adamant about standing for the national anthem.
Quite a statement. Hopefully, his teammates will respect it and he can withstand locker-room pressure. But in the meantime, bully for Stephon Tuitt!
Mike Ditka. You wouldn’t expect anything else from Iron Mike. The Super Bowl-winning coach and former player has never had much patience for nonsense (as this game-interrupting fan found out back in the day.) And Da Coach has none for anthem kneelers, as he told TMZ recently. “If you can’t respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country,” Ditka said. “That’s the way I feel. Of course, I’m old fashioned, so I’m only going to say what I feel.”
“You don’t protest against the flag and you don’t protest against this country who’s given you the opportunities to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen. So, I don’t want to hear all the crap.”
Eloquence. But of course, he was accused of racism.
Charles Barkley: The Round Mound of Rebound has a lot of opinions, and he’s never minded sharing them. So it’s not too surprising that on TNT's “The Arena,” he questioned the wisdom of shoving race down basketball fans’ throats:
They could get turned off. They could get turned off. Because, people watch sports for sports. Listen, there's a direct correlation. You go back to what was going on with Colin Kaepernick. The fans were not happy with that. And now, with such a condensed season, with the guys being on really, really every day for three months. And for the public, that, like they are going to hear the stuff every single day for three months. You have to stay, I want to know how they are going to react. I really do. And for people who say the fans really are going to be all aboard for everything, I'm a wait and see.
Elsewhere, he called demands that everyone in the NFL kneel for the anthem “a very slippery slope.” He defended Drew Brees and said, “It does not make you a bad guy if you don’t kneel, in my opinion.” That’s radical talk in 2020.
Richy Werenski -- He’s a pro golfer. He’s been wearing a “Blue Lives Matter” wristband during tournaments for over a year. He wore it last weekend at the 3M tournament near Minneapolis. As he was tied for the lead a good part of the weekend, he and his wristband were on TV quite a bit. A liberal golf writer named Joel Beal noticed. As soon as Beal could pry his fingers from his pearls, he reached for Twitter.
Blue Lives Matter may or may not be a direct response to Black Lives Matter -- not that it makes a difference: it’s every bit as morally defensible. The golf press tried and failed to interview Werenski about it. But somebody got to his brother Michael who explained their grandfather was a cop and their cousin is a cop, and Richy wears the wristband for them.
“I understand how divisive the movements are, and I know I’m biased,” Michael said, “but Richy is one of the best, calmest guys on tour, and it’s not fun to see him get so much hate for wearing a bracelet to support what his grandparents and cousins do.”
Sam Coonrod. This SF Giants relief pitcher did the unthinkable: He didn’t participate in the meaningless political theater MLB devised for opening day. All four teams playing that day were subjected to a Morgan Freeman video lecture as they knelt and held a long black ribbon. Coonrod was the only player in any of the organizations to stand.
After the game he explained, “I meant no ill will by it. I don't think I’m better than anybody. I’m just a Christian. I believe I can’t kneel before anything but God, Jesus Christ.” The howls of outrage from thought enforcers in the sports media were epic. A charming writer named Dan Gartland at Sports Illustrated spat that Coonrod “hid behind his religion” and went on to lecture Christians about their faith. “Claiming to be a Christian to explain not joining your colleagues in a call to treat others with love and respect sounds pretty hypocritical.”
Meanwhile, at NBC Sports, writer Monte Poole made a huge concession to the 1st Amendment by allowing that Coonrod “did nothing wrong.” It was what the pitcher said that bothered Poole. Coonrod’s explanation “slid off his tongue and went dribbling down his chest like liquid contradiction.”
Then came the obligatory sermon:
When did real Christianity opt out of humanity? Give a pass to injustice and inequality? Decide that it’s disrespectful to offer support, if not shelter, to those in need? Does Coonrod not realize that pastors of all faiths are joining crowds around the world fighting for these very ideals?
Notice that both Pool and Gartland have their own religious faith -- a secular leftist but nonetheless dogmatic belief system that casts dissenters into the darkness? This is where the left is now. And it’s why we need more Coonrods.
Aubrey Huff. Speaking of the Giants, Aubrey Huff was instrumental in giving Frisco the 2010 World Series. But he isn’t welcome around the stadium these days. Back in February the Giants announced they had canceled him. Huff wasn’t invited to the 10-year anniversary celebration. He had “made multiple comments on social media that are unacceptable and run counter to the values of our organization.”
You see, Huff’s a right-winger, and nothing could be more counter to the values of Sodom By the Bay. He’s also entirely unapologetic about things, as you can see from his tweet about the opening day lefty liturgy that Coonrod wouldn’t dignify.
He also responded to a tweet from the Giants’ Twitter account that said #blacklivesmatter. Huff wrote back #alllivesmatter. That is some serious sacrilege.