When I entered his room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he proudly stood at full attention, brimming with nervous energy. I had come to thank him on behalf of a grateful nation, and the sergeant was as respectful as he was inspiring in his patriotism. Although he winced with pain, he would not take the meeting lying down.
We did not discuss his injury or diagnosis. He told me how proud he was of his wife, a teacher at the local high school. And how willing he was to go back to the fight – wherever that star-spangled banner yet waves.
The teacher and the sergeant are the regular folks who make up my North Florida district, which boasts of more military bases than Starbucks, and more veterans than pelicans. These are the folks who do not understand why NFL players would disrespect our anthem or our flag or why the NFL Commissioner's office has embraced this unpatriotic conduct.
Taxpayers pay over 70 percent of the cost of stadiums. Our citizens pay more and more for tickets, and valuations of professional sports franchises have skyrocketed. Player compensation keeps growing. But the NFL Commissioner’s office can choose at any point to stop paying taxes altogether.