Culture

Rep. Jim Renacci, Candidate for Ohio Governor, Cancels NFL Ad Buy in Response to Protests

Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, speaks in Independence, Ohio. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

A Republican candidate for Ohio governor has pulled $20,000 worth of ads from an NFL game in response to what he calls the “indefensible protests” during the national anthem at games.

Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) has been a member of Congress since 2011 and faces a crowded field of Republicans for the state’s gubernatorial race to replace former GOP presidential candidate and current Gov. John Kasich. He announced on Friday that he was canceling an ad scheduled to run Sunday during the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals.

“While the First Amendment clearly affords NFL players and officials the freedom to engage in this appalling behavior, having the right to do something does not mean it’s the right thing to do,” Renacci explained in a press release. “Throughout our nation’s history, countless American men and women of all backgrounds and races have sacrificed deeply to protect and preserve the ideals that our nation and its flag stand for—and our National Anthem serves as a tribute to that sacrifice that we should honor, not disparage.”

He went on to say that while the right to speak and protest peacefully is a fundamental American freedom, “protesting the most sacred symbols of those freedoms is both sadly ironic and an inexcusable, offensive display of contempt for what our nation stands for.”

More than 200 NFL players, including 20 from the Cleveland Browns, took a knee during last Sunday’s NFL games.

Renacci, who is an enthusiastic supporter of President Trump, recently spent time with Vice President Mike Pence aboard Air Force Two en route to a speech by Pence at a Cleveland area sheet metal plant.

“I’m grateful to be joined by another friend of mine,” Pence said at the event at which he promoted Trump’s policy agenda. “A strong partner of this administration, a leader who represents Ohio with such distinction in Washington, D.C., Congressman Jim Renacci is here. Jim, would you mind standing up?”

“You know, I was for Jim Renacci before it was cool. I really was. I got to know him before he was even elected to the Congress. Now he serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee,” Pence added. “He’s been a great champion of economic growth and jobs here in Ohio, and I am truly honored — truly honored — that you would be with us here today.”

Renacci was at one time a partner and managing board member of the former Arena Football League’s Columbus Destroyers.

He will face Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Secretary of State John Husted, and Attorney General Mike DeWine in the Republican primary to replace Kasich in 2018.

UPDATE: October 1, 3:15 p.m. EST:  At Sunday’s Cleveland Browns game against the Cincinnati Bengals, all Browns players stood during the national anthem, but several raised fists in the air. Via Cleveland.com:

All Browns players stood during the playing of the national anthem on Sunday prior to their game against the Bengals. At least nine players raised their right fists, including linebacker Christian Kirksey, cornerback Jason McCourty and tight end Randall Telfer.

Others who raised fists include running back Isaiah Crowell, cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun, defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi, wide receiver Kenny Britt, linebacker Dominique Alexander and safety Ibraheim Campbell.

Let’s hope that more people who support these teams decide to step up like Renacci did and hit them where it hurts — in the pocketbook — so we can all get back to enjoying our sports without the obligatory side of politics. No one has a right to protest while they’re on the job (well, they do, but they don’t have a right to protest on the job without consequences). Team owners have every right to bench or fine these players until they cease the actions that are hurting their team and their sport. Of all teams, the perpetually losing Browns can’t afford to continue bleeding fans and TV viewers. But I suspect that until the league begins to pay a hefty price for tolerating the politicization of sports, this kind of thing will continue — and escalate — as players are emboldened and even encouraged by team owners, coaches, and the NFL itself to continue the protests and do heaven knows what else they can think up to offend fans.

UPDATE October 1, 3:35 p.m. EST: Protest continued this week with several NFL teams. Via WaPo:

Otherwise, the early games were marked by players who, for the most part, remained standing. The Los Angeles Rams linked arms and Robert Quinn raised a fist in protest. Members of the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys stood, as did members of the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. Several members of the Buffalo Bills took a knee.

Several members of the Cleveland Browns stood, with fists raised.

The Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints started things Sunday morning, with the Saints collectively taking a knee before their game in London, before rising and linking arms for the singing of the national anthem. Meanwhile, three members of the Dolphins, tight end Julius Thomas, safety Michael Thomas and wide receiver Kenny Stills, continued to kneel during the anthem, performed by Darius Rucker.

These guys (and team owners and management) can’t seem to get it through their thick heads that it doesn’t matter what kind of protest — whether arm linking or kneeling or fist raising — fans are still going to object. STOP POLITICIZING SPORTS. PERIOD.

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