Letter: Pence should apologize for leaving Colts game early

To the editor:

In this political climate you will have a hard time finding someone who doesn’t feel disrespected. You only need to look at the Facebook comments on local news stories to see how angry and hurt people feel.

This hurt manifested itself into a despicable action by Vice President Mike Pence when he walked out of Sunday’s Colts game against the San Francisco 49ers. For those unfamiliar with the conflict, let met outline the events that led up to this disgusting act of petulance.

In response to the killings of several unarmed African-Americans by police, then-quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee for the national anthem. Kaepernick was later cut from the roster and has since had a difficult time finding work in the NFL, but his protest lived on after his departure.

A small amount of players kept the protest going, and while some saw it as disrespectful, there wasn’t a whole lot of talk about it within the football loving community. Then in September, President Donald Trump while holding a rally called football players kneeling during the anthem “Sons of b——,” which angered a lot of NFL players. The protests then went from a small minority of players to the majority of the NFL.

The week after Trump’s comments the Colts joined every other football team in the NFL in kneeling for the anthem, and Jim Irsay, like many of his colleagues, wrote a letter defending the right of NFL players to peacefully protest in any way they see fit. Since then the Colts have steadfastly linked arms during the national anthem to show solidarity and have consistently and respectfully shown that they will stand by their players in the face of attacks on their character by the president.

In the past few weeks the controversy had died down, leading to what seemed like a natural conclusion. The news cycle had moved on, and kneeling players were once again an issue that stayed mainly out of the spotlight. Then Vice President Mike Pence decided to come back to Indiana for the retiring of Peyton Manning’s number. In his usual way, Pence decided to take a benign political issue and once again thrust it into the front page of the news.

After several members of the San Francisco 49ers (remember, the team that Colin Kaepernick formerly played for) decided to kneel, Pence left the game. This is an obvious political stunt that was planned far before he came back to Indianapolis. How could you not know that the San Francisco 49ers were going to kneel when the No. 2 man to Trump, the man who called them “sons of b——”, was attending the game?

They bought tickets to a Colts game and organized the secret service to protect the second family just so they could walk out and say bad things about the players. Isn’t Pence supposed to be a fiscal conservative? How is spending our hard-earned tax dollars on your political stunt good fiscal policy?

Pence’s action disrespected all players in the NFL, the Colts organization, and Peyton Manning. He took a day that Colts fans have been looking forward to for years and used it to make a political statement and overshadow the celebration of the Tony Dungy era Colts.

I believe that over the next few days Pence will learn a very hard truth about Hoosiers; we are far more proud of Manning’s accomplishments than we are of his. Pence should apologize.

Matthew Smith