Thirty years of loyal service to the Buffalo Bills was brought to an end on Sunday, by a single act of disloyal, disservice to our country. After watching Bills players kneeling, raising fists, and even stretching during the playing of the national anthem, New Era Field employee Erich Nikischer decided he had enough.
“I waited until the National Anthem ended, I took off my shirt, threw my Bills hat on the ground, walked out,” Nikischer said in an interview with Buffalo’s Channel 2.
Nikischer doesn’t question the rights of the players to protest, only the manner and timing of it.
“During the National Anthem…the song that is about our country, our veterans that fight and die for us, it’s just something I feel you shouldn’t disrespect that way. I believe people have the right to protest; I just don’t believe that’s the proper venue for it.”
What Nikischer witnessed on Sunday in Buffalo, would be enough to rile the emotions of any patriotic American. Not just in terms of the sheer numbers of Bills players protesting, but the disrespect took on new forms as well. Bills running back LeSean McCoy actually laid on the field and stretched during the playing of the anthem.
McCoy said in the post-game press conference, “I can’t stand and support something where our leader of this country is just acting like a jerk.”
Pretty sure Francis Scott Key had no idea what a President Trump was when he wrote the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Like Nikischer said, the song is about our country and those who fought for our country. It literally has nothing to do with Donald Trump.
Moreover, Erich Nikischer isn’t some normal, garden variety fan. His job at New Era Field was his livelihood. He had worked there for 30 years. Anyone even remotely familiar with the NFL is well aware of the reputation of Bills fans for, shall we say, knowing how to have a good time. Over the course of a generation of working at New Era, Nikischer had probably seen countless examples of drunken revelry and obscene gesturing.
Yet, what drove him away from his job and football, wasn’t having to clean the mess from the guy in Row C, Seat 21 who decided to take a swing at the guy in Row B, Seat 22. What drove him away was the NFL’s embrace of players overtly disgracing our flag. If the NFL can drive tough, veteran NFL men like Erich Nikischer away from the game they love, and depend on for their livelihood. How many more relatively causal sports fans will be there for the NFL this time next year? If these protests don’t stop?
Nikischer closed by saying, “I will never step foot in the that place again, I will never watch an NFL football game again until this ends.”
I’m guessing he’s not the only former NFL fan saying that this morning.