Walter Payton, American Hero

Kneeling for the US flag was just the nail in the coffin for the NFL being dead to me now. Saddens me deeply actually because the NFL has so many cherished memories for me.

One of my favorites was taking my family to the Water Payton “memorial” at Jackson State University, which is an HBCU. (It wasn’t much of a memorial unfortunately, just a plaque on a piece of stone.)

A white family of 6 visiting the memorial of one of sports, and humanities, greatest ambassadors at an HBCU was such a learning experience. It was the NFL and football which allowed this to happen. Sam Cunningham at USC running all over Alabama started to tear down the walls. But still Doug Williams had to go to Grambling, Jerry Rice to Miss. Valley State. Yet in the NFL they shined. And our country is SO much better for it, lead by the NFL.

As a white man, it pains me deeply that my own people would have told Walter Payton(!) he’s not welcome. And yet, was Mr. Payton bitter? No! He was a great, great man, football or not and was able to forgive. To have that internal strength is simply incredible.

And these were the things I was telling my kids. We’ll never live to Jesus’ standards, it is literally impossible, but we certainly can strive to be like Mr. Payton, carry forgiveness in our hearts and assume the best about people.

But the flag thing is too much. You disrespect the flag, you disrespect its people. And its people are good, warts and all. The NFL should have realized this from the outset the way the NBA did with Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (Chris Jackson) in the early 90s. But they allowed this to continue. And thus I go outside on Sundays now to plant trees and work on my garden.

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