Restaurants across the country are in full swing every Sunday dishing out classic American fare during football games. Just don’t expect to actually watch those games at some establishments.
“I’m never going to go back on it as long as they are going to protest,” David McCraw, the owner of the Palmetto Restaurant and Ale House in Greenville, South Carolina, told Fox News. He is one of a series of restaurant owners who have vowed to keep NFL games off their televisions amid the ongoing controversy involving players who kneel during the national anthem.
Instead, gridiron action is being replaced with basketball, “The Walking Dead” and even pictures of American soldiers – and that may not change for a while.
The businesses say the move has had mixed results so far as the NFL regular season – more than halfway over — heats uip amid the race for the playoffs.
One owner said he has had to fight fake Yelp reviews. Several proprietors have been slammed on social media. And at least one has “gotten a couple death threat calls.”
“We still do not show NFL games or anything else that shows NFL at all,” Matthew Wolcott, owner of Baxters Family Food & Fun in Hixson, Tennessee – just outside Chattanooga — tells Fox News.
Wolcott says channels like ESPN are among those that are off limits at his family-friendly establishment, and even though some people have stopped coming, there are “patriots” in the area that agree with his views and veterans stop by each weekend.
“It’s never been about a race thing for us. It never will be. It was simply about the respect that those in the armed forces deserve,” he told Fox News. “It’s just us standing up for what we believe in just like everyone else stands up for what they believe.”
Wolcott says he has received threatening calls since announcing on Facebook that Baxters would not show the league’s games “until the NFL comes to its senses on this national anthem tragedy.”
Instead, his restaurant’s televisions are showing pictures of American soldiers during NFL games. Wolcott told Fox News that he comes from a military family and his grandfather, Charles Robert Pickle, was a Marine who fought in the Korean War and was part of the Frozen Chosen.
At Canyon Road Bar & Grill in Breckenridge, Texas, owner Kent Thompson told Fox News that there have been no “measurable negative impacts” from not showing Thursday night NFL games.
In South Carolina, McCraw says the foot traffic through the doors of the Palmetto Restaurant and Ale House on Sundays and Monday nights has dropped, but numbers overall are up from last year.
“It’s just a position I took and I’m willing to stand by it,” he said, adding that he issue he has with the protests is with the timing.
“A lot of people got it twisted,” he told Fox News over the debate surrounding the protests. McCraw says he believes there are social disadvantages in society for minorities in general, and that the country needs “to work on those issues”, but there is a “better time to bring it to light” than the national anthem protests.
“I would support them on any issue if they wanted to protest, but not during the national anthem,” he added.
The timing has been a point of debate for supporters and opponents of the kneeling, which has spread to other sports.
Bruce Maxwell, an Oakland Athletics catcher who in September became the first to kneel in baseball, said he believes the U.S. is the “best country on the planet,” but he is kneeling “for the people that don’t have a voice.
“This goes beyond the black community. This goes beyond the Hispanic community,” he said. “Because right now we are having a racial divide in all types of people.”
NBA superstar LeBron James has told reporters that the protests are “about equality,” not about disrespecting the American flag or military. And Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers QB who has become a lightning rod of controversy after starting the protest movement, says it’s “bigger than football.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told the NFL in 2016.
Yet for as long as the protests remain, the self-imposed NFL boycott will, too.
All of the restaurants interviewed by Fox News for this article also said they aren’t planning to show the Super Bowl in February.
“All they are doing is driving people out of the living room, it’s amazing they don’t get that,” Thompson said about the demonstrating NFL players.