Conservative website American Thinker interviewed several U.S. military veterans about their opinions on the NFL player protests — and they were less than complimentary.
What did they say?
American Thinker's Elise Cooper interviewed six U.S. veterans: Mike, Val, Jason, William, Robert, and Michael.
All of the veterans had differing stories but one common theme: They were vehemently opposed to the NFL players protesting the national anthem in order to bring awareness to police brutality and social injustice.
Mike, an employee at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, told Cooper that he feels "privileged athletes" must "find more constructive ways" to protest and demonstrate so as to not offend those who pay their wages.
"Few of the participating NFL players can articulate their grievances and willingly or unwittingly promulgate a false narrative about American societal injustices," Mike said. "This is residual from the Obama-Holder years. Incontestable. Incontrovertibly. Privileged athletes must find more constructive ways to express grievances without offending those who support them with dollars, especially those who served and families who paid the ultimate price."
Val, a retired Air Force Colonel, is vehemently against the protests.
"This is not the time to protest," Val said of the national anthem. "It is a time to show respect for the nation."
Val said that employers generally do not allow employees to engage in demonstrations or protests while on the clock, and that "it should be the same in the NFL."
Retired SEAL Jason told Cooper that though he supports the right to demonstrate, he does not agree with the way NFL players are going about it.
"I fought for their right to do so under the First Amendment, but my disagreement over this has led many to call me a racist, a bigot, and someone who does not understand freedom," Jason explained. "I have been told on Twitter that I need to stop making this political, that the flag is merely an object and their right to kneel is protected. The problem with these statements is that they are the height of hypocrisy."
Jason concluded, "I served 21 years as a U.S. SEAL. The flag and what it represents go far beyond an object for me. It represents honor, service, and sacrifice. I have watched it drape the coffins of too many others who fought for the rights of people to protest."
William, a U.S. Navy vet, minced no words with Cooper in telling her that he felt NFL players were simply acting like "overpaid and pampered prima donnas."
William said he believes that all athletes should "stand and place their right hand over their heart during the anthem, not raising their fist in the air."
Robert, an Air Force veteran, is not just disgusted with the NFL players, but with those who sponsor the games.
"I am even more disappointed in Anheuser Busch and USAA as major sponsors," Robert told Cooper. "These two companies, proclaiming themselves to be patriotic, have a great opportunity to influence this issue but instead have decided to remain neutral. Ford publicly supports the protest."
He added, "I will never buy another Ford. Stupid decision, as is Busch's."
Michael, a Marine combat veteran who served in the Vietnam War, is finished with NFL football, according to what he told Cooper.
"[The national anthem] should not be used as a tool and the athletes should find another way," Michael said. "I want the athletes to understand that you signed for millions before you even played a single down of professional football."
He added that those who enlist in the military bring home much smaller sums in comparison to professional football plaers.
"You will drive a Ferrari on the streets of South Beach. They will ride in the back of a Blackhawk helicopter with 10 other combat-loaded soldiers," Michael compared. "You will sleep at the Ritz. They will dig a hole in the ground and try to sleep."
"We have tolerated your drug use and DUIs, your domestic violence, and your vulgar displays of wealth," Michael continued. "We should be ashamed for putting our admiration of your physical skills before what is morally right. But now you have gone too far. You have insulted our flag, our country, our soldiers, our police officers, and our veterans. You are living the American dream, yet you disparage our great country."
He concluded, "I am done with NFL football."