Let me first state that I am a First Amendment absolutist. The right to free expression is quite possibly the most bedrock freedom we have in our nation. There are folks in other countries that have not the first clue of the privilege that we enjoy as Americans to communicate our thoughts and opinions. It is one of the reasons we have been and continue to be the envy of the world. In the United States you can openly disagree with our politicians. In China that will get a person jailed or worse. In the United States you can openly profess your support for same sex marriage. In Iran, that will get someone thrown off of a building. In the United States, you can shout from the mountain tops your disdain for the country you live in. Do that in Cuba and you will disappear, probably never to be heard from again. So no, NFL players, I am not demanding that you stand for the national anthem. That is part of our greatness as a country. No one has to stand for an anthem, support a certain religion, bow to a dictator, drive a government prescribed automobile, be told how many kids we can have, etc., etc. That is an all too true reality in other countries, but not ours. So, again, no, NFL players, I am not nor will I ever demand that you stand for the anthem or do anything for that matter. But as the First Amendment extends to the players in the NFL, it is also extended to me. And while I do not with one ounce of me being argue that NFL players are not entitled to their views or that what they are protesting is not totally devoid of legitimacy, I can and will disagree with the manner in which it is being done. We are constantly being told through this ordeal that the players are not protesting the flag, or the anthem, or the country. Then why do they pick the precise moment when we honor the flag, the anthem, and the country to protest? Again, I am not arguing their rights or the validity of their concerns (I am not going to get into that portion of this argument as that is a whole different issue). But why then protest in this way, if not to specifically say “we do not like this country.”? It all seems a little more than coincidental to me that this is the time and the forum that players choose to express their views. So with that being said, it does disappoint me that this is the mode of protest that the players have chosen. But, NFL players, do your thing. In turn, I will do mine. I will not demand of you that you stand, the same way that you cannot demand of me that I watch you play. And on a final note, the reason for my profound disappointment in the manner in which these men are protesting is this: I served for nearly ten years in the United States Army. I served with men and women from nearly every background imaginable in our country. Black, brown, Native American, Asian American, Muslims, you name it. The Army is like Noah’s Ark. And we congregated around our flag, with a common sense of purpose, as we knew the flag represented the best of our country, not the worst. When we rolled out the gate in Iraq, it was the United States flag that was emblazoned on our right shoulder. The origin of our ancestors did not matter. The pigmentation of our skin did not matter. We were Americans, looking out for fellow Americans in service to our country. So when NFL players decide to kneel in protest when our flag is raised, they should remember that when a casket comes home with someone in it who died to ensure their right to protest, it is draped in the flag they apparently detest. While they think they are doing something so “courageous” by taking a knee, Alejandro Villanueva is one of the only NFL players who showed any type of courage of conviction on Sunday. CPT. Villanueva, myself, and hundreds of people I personally know would have died to for any one of those NFL players to ensure their rights and opportunity for prosperity in our country. And in return, they cannot even stand for us. A noble protest is no longer noble when those protesting are protesting the wrong things.