BUFFALO, NY - The controversy over protests during the National Anthem at NFL games continues to be a festering boil on the national conscience.
Many who feel such protests are inappropriate and disrespectful, have threatened to boycott attending NFL games, or even stop watching them on TV because of it.
A well-known local businessman told WGRZ-TV he is among those soured by the situation, and has advised the owners of the Buffalo Bills he will no longer be attending or watching games due to the player protests.
The sign outside Sahlem’s Roofing and Siding on Southwestern Boulevard in Hamburg flashes a message to passing motorists: “We Stand”.
William j. Salem, the president of this 40 year old family business, whose success has allowed him to spend thousands of dollars on season tickets over the years to see his beloved Bills and the Buffalo Sabres, told WGRZ-TV he will no longer support either club.
Both teams are owned by Terry Pegula.
He’s even written a letter to Pegula advising him that he no longer wishes to attend games, and asking for his season tickets to be refunded, due to Pegula’s statement critical of President Donald Trump and the National Anthem protests conducted by members of the Bills.
“For three minutes, everyone stood together,” said Sahlem, regarding the playing of the National Anthem at sporting events prior to the current controversy. “Now, at sporting events we go there and there’s a big political pile of junk going on, and I’m done with it. I just don’t want to see it.”
Sahlem said it made his “stomach churn” to see players kneeling during the anthem.
“I don’t think he (Pegula) will give me money back, but at least he’s gonna know that I feel these players, who work for him, should stand for the flag. That’s the way it is, and he should tell them that,” Sahlem said.
When it was pointed out to Sahlem that that several players have stated that by taking a knee, they are actually standing up against racial and social inequality (and view it as a patriotic duty to do so) Sahlem replied, “Well they may be. But there’s better ways to do it. I think the people who are on their knees, should get up off their knees and go into Buffalo or wherever they want to fix these things, and fix them by doing something.”