An Indianapolis sports columnist is calling out Vice President Mike Pence, accusing him of using his home-state’s NFL team as a stage for a cheap political stunt.
This Sunday, Pence abruptly left a game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Fransisco 49ers when players chose to “take a knee” during the National Anthem. Writing in his column for the Indianapolis Star, Gregg Doyel said that Pence “knew” the players would be kneeling and used the opportunity to make a political statement.
“What, you think he didn’t know the 49ers would kneel on Sunday? Pence knew,” Doyel wrote. “The 49ers are the one franchise, the only franchise, that have had at least one player kneel before every game since Colin Kaepernick was the first to do it in the 2016 preseason Kaepernick played for the 49ers, of course.”
Listen, part of me – a small part, and not that part that won this internal argument – admired Pence for the irony of his blatant look-at-me maneuver. NFL players are doing the same thing when they kneel for the anthem, right? It’s about making a statement. It’s about pushing an agenda. Let’s not be hypocritical here and ignore that.
And I say that as someone who supports their right to kneel, and more than that, understands why they do it. Great as our country is, best in the world, we’re still failing to provide equality for minorities. It’s heartbreaking, so many of the headlines we get these days, like the ones last month from Charlottesville, Va. Go back a few years and there are other cities: Ferguson, Mo. Sanford, Fla. Baton Rouge. Minneapolis.
Doyel also pointed out that a press pool traveling with Pence was told to stay behind in the van outside the game, indicating that the walkout was staged — a claim that was bolstered by NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard, who tweeted that reporters were told to stay in the van because Pence “may depart the game early.”
Doyel also slammed Pence for the tax payer money that was wasted on the stunt.
“He traveled here with his usual contingent of aides and bodyguards, and he didn’t fly standby on Delta,” he wrote. “Chew on that for just a minute.”
Pence announced his walkout on Twitter, saying, “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”
But a tweet fired off later in the day by President Trump left the spontaneity of the event in question:
I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
Much of the internet saw it differently:
Just so we’re clear: Mike Pence tweeted a 3yr old photo & showed up to an NFL game knowing he’d leave to make his base angry at blck players https://t.co/hwtqiSpaw3
— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) October 8, 2017
Mike Pence flying across the country so he could be offended is like the guy who watches gay porn to remind himself of how much he hates it.
— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) October 9, 2017
Mike Pence's Stunt Today of Flying to the 49er's Game then Leaving Cost Taxpayers an Estimated $209,000
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) October 9, 2017
Mike Pence had not been to a Colts game in 3yrs but all the sudden spent a ton of OUR $ to fight peaceful protest.
SHAME ON U PENCE!
— USMCSSDD (@USMCSSDD) October 8, 2017
NFL players are kneeling to protest racial injustice in America.
Donald Trump and Mike Pence staged a walkout to fuel racial division in America.
Nothing is more disrespectful to the flag than a POTUS and VP who are intentionally trying to divide America.
— Power to the People ☭🕊 (@ProudSocialist) October 8, 2017
Featured image via YouTube