The vast majority of the anthem-kneeling craze in the NFL may be over, but there are still some anti-American holdouts — you know, like those anti-nuke hippies who kept on protesting outside the White House well into the Reagan era, unaware that the Age of Aquarius wasn’t coming back.
For the NFL’s New York Giants, that holdout is Olivier Vernon, a serviceable defensive end on a truly horrendous team.
Vernon has had to deal with a lot this season. For starters, he’s playing on a squad so desperate for improvement that it’s benched two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning for Geno Smith, a guy who once missed most of a season with the Jets because he got punched out by another player over a $600 debt. That’s a pretty dispiriting thing under any circumstances.
And then there’s his anthem protest holdout. He’s the last person left kneeling on the Giants long after most players and fans have decided that protesting “injustice” has become passé.
However, he says he doesn’t care about the negative feedback he receives from fans — and during a recent interview, he gave them some advice a lot of them have decided to take.
“You hear ‘coward’ and ‘stand up’ and ‘disgrace,’’ Vernon told the New York Post.
“It’s fine. As long as nobody comes on the field and touches me. You stay where you at, you’re going to be all right. They have a right. Oh yeah, I hear it all the time.”
And then there was the advice: “If they don’t like it, don’t come to the game.’’
Well, part of the problem is that fans are listening to him. All across this fruited plain, NFL stadiums are emptier than Pauly Shore’s brain trying to work out Fermat’s last theorem.
And it’s not they’re staying home to watch it on TV, either. Ratings for the NFL are about as good as… well, a TV show featuring Pauly Shore trying to work out Fermat’s last theorem.
Meanwhile, the NFL is trying to bribe its players with $100 million in money donated to causes apparently important to the African-American community in order to stop the anthem protests. What does Vernon think of this?
“Making progress, moving forward,’’ Vernon said. “I don’t know all the logistics of everything right now, but it sounds likes it’s great movement to a good direction.”
Hopefully, Vernon and the NFL can figure out some way to bribe the fans to come back after everyone involved has committed career suicide.
See, the whole problem with Vernon’s quip — “If they don’t like it, don’t come to the game” — is that people coming to the game are the very reason Vernon is currently an Escalade owner.
For whatever reason, there’s a certain subset of performers — mostly athletes, musicians and actors — who think that their talent is so great that they deserve to be paid handsomely no matter who is interested in seeing them perform.
Vernon isn’t the only player who thinks that he’s talented and hard-working enough that even if not a single person showed up to MetLife Stadium or watched him play on TV that he would deserve every penny of the millions he’s being paid. That’s the world these performers live in — their income is apparently entirely independent of whether or not you approve of them giving America the middle finger.
Individual players may not have felt the pinch yet, but the NFL and its partners are quickly learning that’s not quite how this whole thing works. Olivier Vernon is entitled to his opinion, but opinions have consequences.
And unfortunately for the NFL, a whole lot of people are taking his advice.
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