You can blame it on whatever you want: 9/11, the heavily jingoistic wing of the Republican Party, or just basic national pride, or whatever, but if there’s one inescapable fact about America, it’s that we’re heavily protective of our symbols - especially the Stars and Stripes herself*, to the point that there are several laws and regulations about how to display, care for, dispose of, touch, and, um, stare at** the flag.
So it’s with great pride that the Washington Redskins have begun a pregame tradition of the last player to leave the tunnel bringing an American flag with him to the 50-yard-line. That’ll get the fans fired up, right? Even if the ‘Skins are 0-16 and their fans are surly, certainly we can all cheer for America, right?
Wait, here it comes now, carried by fullback Mike Sellers! Neat! Hooray! And now he’s… oh no. Ohhh dear. Did he just… spike the flag?
According to the ASSOCIATED PRESS, yes, that’s exactly what Sellers did, and boy is his face red***:
Washington Redskins fullback Mike Sellers apologized Saturday for throwing the American flag to the ground during lineup introductions before an exhibition game against the New England Patriots.
“I meant no disrespect,” he said.
Sellers said he acted in the “heat of the moment” Friday night. He said he’s aware of proper conduct when it comes to the flag and should have known better, having grown up in an Army family.
Our favorite aspect of the story, though, is his synopsis of what went down:
“I was asked to bring it out, last minute, didn’t know who to give it to. I got hyped up and put the flag down. It was in the heat of the moment.”
Hell yeah, you put it down. The way Mike Tyson put down Trevor Berbick.
Tragically, there’s no video of the incident. We say “tragically” because there probably isn’t anything funnier than a football player - from an Army family, no less - getting so fired up he spikes the flag onto the ground.
It has precedent, though. Think about it. Someone at a large event with a cheering crowd, supporting America and getting so caught up in the moment and his own inexperience on center stage that he screws up in sublimely epic fashion? Yes, it’s awfully familiar…
Our lone lament: that we didn’t get a “Kill Whitey” from Sellers. He plays for the “Redskins” after all - you’d think that sentiment would be central to all the franchise should stand for.
*Do flags count as female? I don’t know how that one works.
**Okay, that one might be made up.
***Makes sense, if you think about it.