Mississippi restaurant owner pulls the plug on NFL broadcasts over players’ protests of national anthem
A Brookhaven business owner is taking a stand to protest the protests. Randy Eckman, who owns the Fox’s Pizza Den franchise in Brookhaven as well as three others, posted a sign on his restaurant’s doors alerting customers that NFL games or related broadcasts will no longer be shown there. “Due to the disrespect shown toward our great country and the men and women that have sacrificed so much to defend and protect it, this establishment will no longer offer for viewing any NFL game or related broadcast,” it reads.
Eckman also posted the sign in his restaurants in McComb, Amite, Louisiana, and Prattville, Alabama. The Brookhaven restaurant is part of 1905, located at the corner of West Monticello Street and North Whitworth Avenue, which also includes Southern Ground coffee bar.
NFL players in recent weeks have been refusing to stand for the national anthem prior to football games.
The NFL protests began last season with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem to bring more attention to the killings of black men by police officers. The protests spread this season after the former San Francisco 49er was unable to sign on with another team.
President Donald Trump then called for NFL players to be fired by team owners for refusing to stand, which prompted dozens of NFL players, and a few team owners, to join in protests. They knelt, raised fists, sat or locked arms in solidarity during pre-game ceremonies when the anthem was played.
Eckman, the son of a combat veteran who spent 32 years in the Marines, refuses to support the NFL by allowing broadcasts to be played in his establishments.
He put the sign up about two weeks ago, but a photo of it is making the rounds on social media.
He’s gotten a least a dozen handshakes from veterans who appreciated his stand.
“Some parents of young people who are in the service have come in and expressed their appreciation for it,” he said. “I’m just a small operator. It’s not going to have much of an impact.”
But his sign is impacting his customers.
Carolyn and Jim Rudder of Bogue Chitto ate lunch at Eckman’s Brookhaven restaurant today. They acknowledged the sign when they came out and said they’d definitely support his business.
“I agree with him 100 percent,” Jim Rudder said. “I just don’t even watch ball anymore. It used to be my favorite sport.”
His wife believes the protests of the anthem are disrespectful to the members of the armed services who fight for the freedom of Americans to protest.
“There’s too many boys, men who have lost their lives for this country,” she said.
“They don’t realize they wouldn’t be sitting there if it weren’t for these guys that died,” her husband added.
“The NFL is paying them. They’re making so much money, and our guys are out there dying for them to make all that money,” she said.
The Rudders said they’d be back to Fox’s to eat.
“And I’ll tell all my friends, too,” she said.
Eckman grew up playing football from Pee Wee to college, and has been a fan in the stands and in front of a TV his entire life. He didn’t hesitate to say no to the NFL broadcast.
“I won’t miss the NFL for this,” he said.
He’s had it with the players’ protests.
“To do it during the national anthem, it’s just disgraceful,” he said. “What I do in my stores — I do it in all four stores — it’s not going to have any impact on them, but it’s my way of saying I’ve had enough of it. To tell you the truth, I expected to lose some business over it, but I’ve had quite a few people supporting it. It’s just a personal issue with me.”
Besides his father, Eckman’s two brothers and a brother-in-law also served in the military.
He feels the players should protest another way.
“To do that during the anthem is just disrespectful and disgraceful,” he said.
He expects the NFL will eventually put pressure on the players to stand for the anthem.
“That’s all well and good but the only reason the NFL is doing it is because of advertising and money. They’re feeling the pressure,” he said. “The only reason the players are going to stop doing it is because the NFL is going to punish them and it’s not that they’re saying, ‘This was pretty disrespectful.’”
Eckman said as long as the players’ don’t show remorse for their actions, he won’t show the players on his restaurants’ TVs.
“They’re not remorseful about it,” he said. “The only reason they’re stopping is over the threat of punishment. I will continue my policy until I have a sense that they’re sincerely regretful about that.”