Lower Burrell, Jeannette veterans groups boycott NFL broadcasts
Lower Burrell and Jeannette veterans organizations will boycott the Pittsburgh Steelers game Sunday amid a national boycott of all NFL games as part of Veterans Day observances this weekend.
Groups representing veterans across the country have previously boycotted games after some NFL players knelt during the national anthem in protest of police brutality.
Earlier in the football season, the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans’ organization, called the athletes who failed to show respect for the national anthem as “misguided and ungrateful.”
The Lower Burrell Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 92 will not show the broadcast of Sunday’s 1 p.m. matchup between the Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts because of “the lack of respect by the NFL of our flag and our country,” according to a sign on the Lower Burrell VFW’s door at its Wildlife Lodge Road site.
The VFW leadership made the change “just to respect Veterans Day weekend and to respect the people who fought for this country and to preserve the freedom we have now,” said Lower Burrell VFW Commander Lee Johnson, who served in Vietnam.
This is the first time the Lower Burrell VFW has boycotted NFL games.
The Jeannette VFW also will boycott Sunday’s game, although the action is not part of the national movement, according to Curt Elliott, commander of Jeannette’s VFW Post 8240.
During the organization’s monthly meeting a few weeks ago, the board unanimously agreed to boycott all NFL games this weekend.
“It’s a protest of the NFL player kneeling, which we find disrespectful,” Elliott said. “We don’t have a problem with them protesting. They should do it on their own time, not while they’re working.”
Although the American Legion has been protesting the NFL players’ behavior during the national anthem, they are not behind Sunday’s boycott, according to a recent interview with the Legion in the Indianapolis Star.
But the Lower Burrell American Legion is following suit with the VFW and for the first time will not show the NFL games on Sunday.
“It’s our statement against the disrespect for the flag and disrespect for the country,” said Terry Scheftic, 66, of Lower Burrell, an officer and historian of the club.
The Facebook page “Boycott the NFL” advocates not watching this Sunday’s NFL games to “honor our military, many of whom come home with a flag draped over their coffin.”
About 78,000 people “liked” the post for boycotting this weekend’s game, while the site attracted more than 230,000 people who also “liked” the page.
“Until millionaire football players stop protesting the national anthem of the United States, we’ll be here,” the Facebook page states. “We love football, but we love our flag more.”
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691.