Patrick Creighton: Taking a stand against grandstanding

The NFL was in the right this time. Courtesy photo

I have the utmost respect for our veterans.  Both of my grandfathers served in World War II.  I grew up in my grandfather’s house, played with the Japanese rifle he brought home, wore his army jacket to school.  He was the biggest male role model in my life. These men were the bravest of the brave.  I always make it a point to say thank you to any veteran I see for their service.

Admittedly, I don’t have much respect for those at the NFL offices at 345 Park Ave.  They are arrogant, dismissive, power hungry, corrupt, and often make fools of themselves.  This is why writing this is going to be difficult, but here it is.

There are dozens of stories making the rounds, some in print, all online, about how the NFL rejected an advertisement from a veteran’s group.  Almost all of these stories are condemning the NFL, and even more give very little information about what actually transpired.  These publishers know that a substantial amount of people will see the salacious headline, be outraged, and share the story.  They never expect you to read multiple stories all the way through and educate yourself on all the details, particularly the ones they omitted.

AMVETS is an organization that was founded to support World War II veterans.  They work in the interests of their members.  I don’t take issue with them for trying to get a message published.  I do take issue with their grandstanding and posturing in the wake of their ad being rejected.

They wanted to run an ad in the official Super Bowl program with the message #PleaseStand.  They were rejected, and now they are angry and claiming censorship and denial of freedom of speech.  

It’s grandstanding.  I loathe grandstanding.  Also, they’re wrong on both counts.  

Not only is the NFL well within their rights to choose who they will and will not accept as advertising partners, they also are well within their rights to choose what is and isn’t an acceptable message for their program.  This goes for any potential marketing partner, be it your favorite church or your favorite “gentleman’s establishment,” they can choose who they want to be associated with.  Frequently we look at this in reverse, with the advertiser having the right to choose who will and will not represent their product (think athlete who just got arrested for doing something really bad losing sponsors as a result).  This works both ways.

Also, something omitted in most stories, is that the NFL tried to work with AMVETS to modify the ad to be more palatable to them.  NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the NFL asked AMVETS  to change the verbiage from “Please Stand” to “Please Honor Our Veterans” or “Please Stand For Our Veterans.”  AMVETS refused.

Why would they refuse?  They are a veteran’s advocacy group.  Isn’t the point of what they are saying to show honor and respect to the veterans they represent?  Unless there is something more, and here is what that could be (and most likely is):

AMVETS wants to poke the bear that is NFL player demonstrations during the anthem.  The NFL wants no part of that, just as much as they want no part of player demonstrations, particularly during its grandest event.  The largest complaint about demonstrations by people is they want the sport and entertainment value, and none of the politics.  The NFL has seen polls and is heeding the information.  They understand that #PleaseStand can and will be construed as a direct shot at those players who have demonstrated for social justice (remember, the players have all expressed support for military, and said the demonstration is expressly about social injustice.  Some of these players, such as Michael and Martellus Bennett, come from military families). The NFL doesn’t want to add fuel to the fire with what is already a difficult subject with the players.

Consider now that the NFL is also dealing with the Colin Kaepernick grievance that owners have colluded to keep him from playing.  #PleaseStand would be straight ammunition for Kaepernick’s lawyers.  NFL owners being honest with themselves have to know that this grievance will not be easy for them to win, and the stakes are extremely high as losing means the CBA is null and void, and all the power and gains the NFL stole from the players in the 2011 lockout would have to be renegotiated in a much more difficult environment.  

However, it’s still important to note, these are paid advertisements.  It’s not about freedom of speech in any way, shape or form.  Corporate censorship is very much acceptable, and enforced on a daily basis (See ESPN’s social media policies).  Saying what you want is your right; it doesn’t make you immune from punishment in the private business sector, just from the government. Businesses absolutely can monitor and regulate what their employees and business partners are saying or promoting.  

Further, another veteran’s group, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (every town in America has a VFW hall, right?) has an ad in the Super Bowl LII program.  It states “We Stand For Veterans.”  It was approved.  

While it’s clear the NFL is being careful with messages sent, it’s also clear that the NFL is 100% perfectly fine with any message honoring veterans.  

Therefore, by refusing to make the verbiage changes, AMVETS has exposed themselves for both grandstanding and politicizing.  This makes it clear they wanted to go after the players who demonstrated, not honor the veterans whom they represent.   Don’t let those internet headlines fool you into thinking otherwise.

The NFL is actually getting it right, and protecting their players (as well as the shield, which we know is always job 1).  They shouldn’t give in to grandstanding groups, even veteran’s groups, with clear political agendas.


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The clock is ticking. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

If he is indeed to become an ex-Astro George Springer can officially sign with his new team starting at four PM Houston time this Sunday. Michael Brantley the same. All free agents can sign contracts starting Sunday afternoon. If the die isn't cast that Springer is leaving, it certainly feels like his renewing vows with the Astros would be an upset.

The Astros will make Springer a 18.9 million dollar qualifying offer for 2021. He will of course reject that because contract offers of at least five years and over 100 million dollars likely await. Should Springer move on the Astros would then get a compensatory draft pick. Brantley won't get anything in close range of Springer's haul-to-be but still should at least get multiyear offers. The Astros should make the qualifying offer to Brantley (if they don't they forfeit any compensation for his departure). If they don't out of fear that he'd accept the one-year deal, the Astros would look lame. I don't think it comes to that. Losing Springer would be a huge blow on multiple levels, but if somehow they were to keep Brantley while getting back Yordan Alvarez at even 80 percent of his rookie performance level the Astros' lineup would look to be in decent shape.

With MLB's economic outlook shaky for 2021, it's unreasonable to say Jim Crane and his partners should give Springer whatever he wants. A six or seven year megadollar contract for a 31-year-old player with some durability questions on his resume is an iffy proposition. At the same time, the Astros have been quite profitable in recent years (before 2020), and Crane said over the summer the Astros were positioned to be "aggressive, whatever the market looks like." 13 million Josh Reddick dollars are off the books for 2021, 10 mil of Roberto Osuna is gone. After next year more than 57 mil of Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke clear.

MLB's postseason awards will be doled out over the next couple weeks but for the first time in years the Astros don't have a credible candidate for any of the big ones (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year). The Astros do have three American League Gold Glove finalists. I think Carlos Correa wins the shortstop honor. Correa had a weak regular season at the plate but his defense was stellar, plus the two guys who divvied up the last four AL SS Gold Gloves (Francisco Lindor and Andrelton Simmons) had down seasons and aren't finalists. Quick: name the teams of fellow finalists J.P. Crawford and Niko Goodrum. Hard to see either winning over Correa. Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker were also named top three at their positions. For the first time the finalist selections were driven entirely by stats and analytics.

Big week for the Rockets

With the Rockets settling on Stephen Silas as their new Head Coach, that hire coupled with the in house promotion of Rafael Stone to General Manager makes it appear as though owner Tilman Fertitta is doing more things on the cheap. The NBA economic environment is challenging and huge portions of the rest of Fertitta's portfolio are submerged in a COVID-driven bloodbath. Silas has paid his dues for a good while and most recently worked under the outstanding Rick Carlisle in Dallas. He has earned a lead chair opportunity. But with no prior head coaching experience and no bidding war for his services, Silas signs on at a much lower rate than, say, Jeff Van Gundy would have commanded. Former head coaches (and former Rockets' player rivals of the 90s) Jeff Hornacek and Nate McMillan would make for two strong Silas assistants. From their playing days if you combined Hornacek's offense and McMillan's defense into one player you'd have one of the top 20 or so greatest guards in NBA history.

Silas and Stone take the reins at a challenging time for the Rockets with their messy salary cap sheet, reduced draft capital, and one of the oldest core player groups in the league. Polite public statements aside, it's part of why Daryl Morey left. Maybe Mike D'Antoni too though that seemed more about feeling disrespected by the lack of a contract extension before this past season. D'Antoni may have overplayed his hand since he did not get fill any of the coaching vacancies elsewhere in the NBA. Only Oklahoma City remains open, and D'Antoni has gotten no run there.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. It seems sadly appropriate that the first meaningful positive in the Texans' 2020 season came in form of a COVID test result.

2. If we all commit to getting through it together, I think we can get by without a Texans' game this weekend. Remember, it's their open week, not a bye!

3. One hit wonder goodbye songs: Bronze-Terry Jacks "Seasons in the Sun" Silver-Norman Greenbaum "Spirit In The Sky" Gold-Steam "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"

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