Former Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants quarterback Fran Tarkenton is not a man who’s afraid to speak his mind.
In an interview with USA Today published Monday, the Hall of Famer ripped the NFL for what he believes is a massive cover-up of performance-enhancing drugs.
While Tarkenton is passionate about curtailing what he feels is rampant PED use in football, there’s another topic that Tarkenton very clearly feels strongly about.
In that same interview, he set his sights on politics and anthem protests in the NFL, and he did not hold back.
Tarkenton said he had begun tuning out the NFL recently because partisan politics and anthem protests have tainted the league.
He believes the league’s politics started leaning heavily toward the left, and those on the right have been driven to silence.
“We’re silent because if you’re not a Democrat, progressive liberal and you disagree with the progressive liberal’s viewpoint, then you’re going to be spit at, hit, ridiculed and booed,’’ Tarkenton said. “So you know what we do? We don’t talk.
“We’re a silent majority.”
Tarkenton said the league’s allowance of anthem protests was a clear sign that the NFL was engaging in partisan politics.
He believes NFL players should be allowed to protest, just not during the playing of the national anthem.
“Do I think they should be able to demonstrate? I do,” Tarkenton said.
But then he put forth a very pointed question for anthem protesters and the NFL.
It’s a question that both would struggle to answer.
“But when they play the national anthem and that flag is up there, if we cannot respect that, what do we respect in America?” asked Tarkenton.
Truly, if Americans can’t respect the American flag, what is worth respecting in America?
As Tarkenton noted, it’s fine to demonstrate and have personal beliefs. But if someone can’t show a modicum of respect to the American flag as the national anthem is sung, which is typically all of two minutes or so, what can they show respect to?
Of course, those protests began when Colin Kaepernick began kneeling for the national anthem during the 2016 NFL season. Kaepernick spent the 2017 season unemployed, and while his supporters claim it’s racism or blackballing, Tarkenton also gave a succinct response to that.
“If [NFL teams] thought he could play, and their coaches thought [he] could play, he’d be on one of those 32 teams,’’ he said.
It’s a fair point, especially considering that the NFL is a meritocracy and teams value winning above virtually all else.
Interestingly, Tarkenton, who publicly voiced support for President Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican National Convention, also dislikes some of the criticisms leveled against Kaepernick, and the NFL as a whole, by Trump.
He said he wants to see less hatred from all sides.
“I’m not a fan of [Trump’s attacks on Kaepernick and the NFL]. And I’m not a fan of Hollywood and the talk show hosts and ‘Saturday Night Live.’ To see the vitriol that comes through on that side and Trump on his side, I think is totally uncalled for. I think it’s awful.’’
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