Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) scores a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

One Fan’s Goodbye Letter to the NFL and Atlanta Falcons

Dear Atlanta Falcons and NFL:

For thirty-eight years you have had my supreme loyalty. That loyalty began with “Big Ben Right”. It was just one play in one football game, but it had a huge impact on my life. Watching that game in a new town with brand new friends, I became “one of the guys”. Because of my family’s nomadic lifestyle to that point, I had never previously experienced that type of camaraderie.

Every season since then, I’ve spent hard earned money on tickets and travel expenses to games. When I lived in Georgia, I splurged for season tickets. No matter how bad the Falcons were, my loyalty to them and the league never wavered. Until a couple of weeks ago, I intended to be a fan and supporter for life.

But then, you in the league offices, and the Falcons front office, inserted yourselves into a policy question that was better left to the people and their representatives. The statement from league spokesman Brian McCarthy, which was essentially echoed by the Atlanta Falcons, read as follows:

“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”

I resent your thinly veiled threat to blackball the State of Georgia, and to withhold Super Bowls from Atlanta’s upcoming 1.2 billion dollar stadium, if the Governor dared sign a religious liberty bill into law. It would have guaranteed religious liberty at the state level in the same way that the current federal law does at the federal level.

Your statement is intellectually dishonest. You say you prohibit discrimination, yet this bill was written and designed as an anti-discrimination bill to protect faith leaders. It should have gone further. It should have protected wonderful Christian public servants like former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, whose career was ended simply because he expressed his religious views. But the bill didn’t go nearly that far.

By opposing such an innocuous bill, designed to prevent the actual discrimination against and targeting of Christians by militant gay rights groups, (see the book You Will Be Made to Care by Erick Erickson and Bill Blankschaen for details of many such cases) you have tipped your hand. There is one logical conclusion that can be drawn: far from a tolerant league (and team, in the case of the Falcons) you are intolerant of people of faith. Far from prohibiting discrimination, you promote and encourage it. What do you suppose will be the reaction of well- funded gay activists emboldened by your very public support? More Christians will be targeted, more will be forced to accept this brand new definition of marriage, which definition is unprecedented across cultures and six thousand years of human history.

Who do you think you are? How dare the NFL and the Falcons presume for yourselves the authority to determine what is right regarding an issue of such titanic cultural importance. According to the unmitigated hutzpah of your statement, society should now set aside the moral and spiritual guidance of pastors, theologians and faith leaders, as well as the clear teachings of the Holy Bible. The NFL will heretofore determine what orthodoxy should be in the realm of marriage.

Oh and by the way, both of you have now defacto accused faith leaders of discrimination. To use one example, the Southern Baptist Convention and Georgia Baptists strongly supported this bill. Your statement reflects that you stand in judgement of both of them as being guilty of discrimination. So may we as a society now look to you for other moral judgements? May we assume that any day you will be withdrawing your support for pro-abortion entities, and perhaps cleaning up your Super Bowl halftime shows?

Can you not see the hypocrisy inherent in your own statement? The league rightly discriminates based on gender every season. It has determined that only men can be players in their league because only men can meet the stringent physical demands required. There is absolutely nothing immoral about that discrimination. It could be argued that it would be immoral not to discriminate. A woman attempting to play in the NFL would likely end up getting seriously injured.  Despite leftist arguments to the contrary, gender and race are not analogous.  While there is no difference between people solely because of their race or skin color, differences in gender, between male and female human beings, are hugely significant. That’s why your vapid attempt to draw moral equivalencies between racists and those who merely want to live out their faith regarding marriage, are invalid and illogical.

You, my former team and the league have done a grave disservice to your community, as well as fans, players, coaches and personnel who are people of faith. I don’t have the pull or the desire to call for a boycott. Others are free to do as they think best. But the Falcons and the NFL will never get another dime of my money, or another minute of my time.

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Chris Skates

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