NFL kneelers

Olivier Vernon has outraged fans with his decision to kneel during the national anthem.  His answer to disapproving fans? “Don’t come to the game.”

Vernon, as the only remaining Giants player still taking a knee, has received some backlash for his choice.

“‘You hear ‘coward’ and ‘stand up’ and ‘disgrace,’’ Vernon said. ‘It’s fine. As long as nobody comes on the field and touches me. You stay where you at, you’re going to be all right. They have a right. Oh yeah, I hear it all the time. If they don’t like it, don’t come to the game.'”

But Vernon got a dose of karma when he was publicly denounced on live TV:

The New York Post ran his comments on Thursday after CBS Sports commentator Boomer Esiason called him “an out-and-out-disgrace.”  

Last year Vernon signed an $85 million, five-year contract with the Giants owner John Mara.

“‘Here is a guy you gave $80 million to basically telling your fans, ‘If you don’t like it, don’t come,’’ said Esiason on WFAN radio in New York City. ‘It is the most egregious act of defiance. It just blows me away.'”

The NFL has struggled this season with the protests that have been held during the games.  Ratings and attendance have fallen since the protests began in 2015.  The statements began as a statement against police brutality against black men, and then surged again when President Trump criticized the players.

Since the protests surged, the number of participating players has drastically decreased, with only about 20 players refusing to stand for the anthem in Week 12.

“‘Do you realize, Olivier Vernon, that you do not make the money unless the fans do come and buy the tickets and buy your jersey?’ asked Esiason. ‘Do you not realize that when the TV turns on, there is a large swath of advertisers that buy around the league so that you can make the freaking money that you make?'”

Vernon, the son of a Miami police officer, has claimed his refusal to stand is “‘about highlighting racial injustice and not about disrespect for the flag or the country,’ the Post reported.”

“‘I’m fine where I’m at right now. Ain’t nothing wrong with feeling bad for what you believe in,” Vernon said. ‘What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. I stand behind my beliefs.'”