Local NFL Fans Respond To National Anthem Controversy
By NICOLE FAY BARR
Correspondent

When Mark Sypeck, an Army veteran and a loyal Philadelphia Eagles fan for over four decades, saw NFL players on television kneeling rather than standing and saluting the American flag during the National Anthem, he was sickened and angered.

“It was like a punch in the gut,” he related. “I just felt total disgust at how our country is being disrespected.”

Sypeck decided to take action in response to the scorn he felt that he and fellow veterans received not only from the football players, but from the NFL officials who failed to punish those players. On Sunday, Oct. 8, as the Eagles were about to face the Arizona Cardinals, Sypeck and his patriotic comrades were holding a protest of their own, vowing not to watch that game or another NFL game ever again.

In his backyard on Woodlawn Avenue, Sypeck and about 20 other veterans and supporters burned their football gear –shirts, jerseys, hats, and blankets –in a huge bonfire. They did so with the American flag proudly waving next to them and, as the National Anthem was being sung at the Eagles game, a Mountaintop man, George Thomas, sang the tune with attendees standing with hands over their hearts.

The dozens of football players who kneeled at NFL games in the past few weeks cited different political reasons for not standing. Colin Kaepernick began the trend last year, when he played for the San Francisco 49ers and noted that he was trying to bring attention to police brutality and racism.

Sypeck explained last week that he has no issue with peaceful protests, but when that protest involves not

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