Dear Mr. Irsay: Dear Mr. Reich:
As owner and as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, I address you on behalf of the multitude of people whose lives are impacted every day by what “The Blue” does, not only on Sundays when game time rolls around but on every day of the year when, having eaten at a local restaurant we pay the bill which most often includes a “stadium” (Lucas Oil) tax or pick up the tab for an out of town friend staying at a local motel which adds on another tax for the three-quarter billion dollar stadium built for Colts games which only a few of us ever have the opportunity to attend.
We live here and we are glad that over the years, since the Colts moved here from Baltimore, we have been able to boast of a fine, competitive team that not only won the Super Bowl but has demonstrated, through the likes of Coach Dungy, Peyton Manning and others, class citizenship in community endeavors, representing well your organization as one that cares for our city and its citizens and contributes in many ways to our pride and progress. For that, we are grateful.
That’s why, in your first game this year, when it was time for the National Anthem, typically signaling the beginning of the game’s play action, it was terribly disappointing, even disgusting, to see the entire team of players standing behind you, Coach Reich, while you put one knee to the ground and refused to respect “old glory” and our national song of appreciation for all men and women, past and present, who have sacrificed their own pursuits to serve in our armed forces to protect, preserve and to pass on to the next generation the freedoms that have been so unique to our great nation since those 56 brave colonial Constitution framers signed the Declaration of Independence pledging their lives and fortunes so that our republic could be one where “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” could be enjoyed by every American. Most of those valiant men lost everything: their lives, families, possessions because of their courage in signing that historic document; and from the inception of our nation, millions of mostly young, heroic, barely out of the stage of boyhood men have sacrificed their lives on foreign soil so that we could breathe free air today, choose our vocation and place of worship and rear our children and establish our homes in a country where there has been from our nation’s inception the opportunity to live free. The ultimate price for this freedom has been paid by generations of patriotic men and women who freely forfeited their own dreams and desires so that we could, as we do today, enjoy this experiment of republican government, now 244 years old and counting, which has been unlike any ever known in mankind’s history, and which is the envy of the world’s masses most of which are still “yearning to be free.”
That’s why, sirs, when the Colts took the field for its season opener and our coach, with the approval of the team standing behind him, refused to stand in respect for our flag during the National Anthem, we were so smitten with disbelief, disappointment and disgust. It is a football game. We follow the news and agonize over what our great nation is now enduring. We pray, we contribute in legitimate endeavors to make our city one where each person is treated fairly, equally and with dignity absent discrimination in the work a day world or in the halls of justice. We get it. We as a people can do better. We protest with all our might any movement that is bent on destroying buildings, businesses and bodies because there has been an aberration of justice in our city, state or nation. But when we go to a football game or watch our hometown team play on any given day, we expect the coaches and players to show respect for our country, its historic symbols of freedom and its men and women serving to preserve our freedoms. You, sirs, have done your many fans and well-wishers a monumental disservice; we beg of you to find a respectable way, a patriotic way, an inoffensive way, to show your support of the United States, its citizens of all persuasions who are trying to obey the laws of our land and striving to live in peace with every fellow-American regardless of race or religion.
Please, stand in respect for the flag and all that it represents and for the millions of men and women now serving and who have in wars past or present served and shed their precious blood ensuring that you have a place to play your football games where there is life and liberty guaranteed for all.
“Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” (Provs. 22:28)
“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Provs. 14:34)