Lessons of Life, The End Game

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.
This is a story of how a boy and his best friend took separate paths in life, and how they ended up on different sides of the National Anthem. We all know every Tom, Dick & Harry. But this story is about James and Arthur, two boys from the ghetto. The question is which one made it out?
James graduated high school in 2011. His teenage years were a struggle. He grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. In James’s household his mother was the head of the family and worked tirelessly to keep a roof over his head and food on his plate. Academics were a struggle for James and his grades were well below average at best. The only thing that made James stand out was his weighed 225 lbs and the fact that he could run 40 yards in 4.2 seconds while carrying a football.
James’s best friend was just like him in many ways, except he didn’t play football. Instead of going to football practice after school, Arthur went to work at McDonalds for minimum wage. James was recruited by all the big colleges and spent every weekend of his senior year making visits to universities where coaches and boosters tried to convince him their school was best. They laid out the red carpet for James.
Arthur worked double shifts at Mickey D’s. College was not an option for him. On the day James signed with that Big State University, Arthur signed paperwork with his Army recruiter. James went to summer workouts. Arthur went to basic training.
James spent the next four years living in the athletic bubble of college football, eating at the training table. He spent Saturdays on the football field, cheered on by adoring fans. Tutors attended to his every academic need. James attended class when you felt like it, which was seldom if ever. Sure, he worked hard. He lifted weights, ran sprints, studied plays, and soon became one of the top football players in the country.
All the while his best friend, Arthur, was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. During the time James was in college, Arthur deployed to Iraq once and Afghanistan twice. He became a Sergeant and led a squad of 19 year old soldiers who grew up just like he did. Arthur shed his blood in Afghanistan and watched young Americans die, lose limbs, and innocence in the course of defending the USA.
James went to the NFL combine and scored off the charts. He hired an agent and waited for draft day. James was drafted in the first round and his agent immediately went to work, ensuring that he received the most money possible. James signed for $16 million although he had never played a single down of professional football. Arthur, his best friend re-enlisted in the Army for four more years. As a combat tested sergeant, he will be paid $32,000 per year.
James will drive a Ferrari on the streets of South Beach. Arthur will ride in the back of a Blackhawk helicopter with 10 other combat loaded soldiers. James will sleep at the Ritz.
Arthur will dig a hole in the ground and try to sleep. James will “make it rain” in the club. Arthur will pray for rain as the temperature reaches 120 degrees.
On Sunday, James will run into a stadium as tens of thousands of fans cheer and yell his name. For Arthur, there is little difference between Sunday and any other day of the week. There are no adoring fans. There are only people trying to kill him and his soldiers. Every now and then, he and his soldiers leave the front lines and “go to the rear” to rest. He might be lucky enough to catch an NFL game on TV. When the National Anthem plays and James takes a knee, Arthur will jump to his feet and salute the television. While James protest the unfairness of life in the United States, Arthur will give thanks to God that he has the honor of defending his great country.
To the players of the NFL: We are the people who buy your tickets, watch you on TV, and wear your jerseys. We anxiously wait for Sundays so we can cheer for you and marvel at your athleticism. Although we love to watch you play, we care not about your opinions until you offend us. You have the absolute right to express yourselves, but we have the absolute right to boycott you. We have tolerated your drug use and DUIs, your domestic violence, and your vulgar displays of wealth and foul language. We should be ashamed for putting our admiration of your physical skills before what is morally right.
But now you’ve gone too far. You’ve insulted our flag, our country, our soldiers, our police officers, and our veterans. You are living the American dream, yet you disparage our great country. You insult us all.
I am done with NFL football.
From the EastWing, Lessons of Life, The End Game
I Wish You Well,