Clay Higgins has found new time in his Sunday schedule to ride his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. It's whenever the National Football League tees it up.
There was a time, Higgins says, when he relished his autumn afternoon watching the New Orleans Saints and other NFL teams. No more.
"The NFL has abandoned America," Higgins says in a widely distributed YouTube video shot by his wife, Becca. He had plenty more to add to that, and some 2 million people watched him deliver his impassioned message on the Internet in recent days.
Higgins said he's distressed by growing disrespect shown by NFL players who refuse to stand for the National Anthem. Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to pointedly refuse to stand for the pre-game event, citing problems involving black Americans and the police.
That movement has spread from Kaepernick to other NFL players and now to other football settings. For Higgins, who served five years in the Army, that shows disrespect to all veterans in general and to those who've fallen in battle in particular.
Higgins says he's a lifelong football fan but behavior by players has "gotten worse and worse." One Sunday, he told his wife, Becca, he was through. Players have a right to protest, he said, but he's got a right to turn off the TV — and he exercised it.
The couple cruised St. Landry Parish roads that day and stopped by the local veterans' memorial. There, he said, the message he delivered on YouTube was formed.
Lots of viewers have lined up with what Higgins had to say, which concluded here: "The NFL is dead to me."
Eddie Conroy responded on Facebook, "The Silent Majority has awakened."
Patrick Baker added, "I haven't watched the NFL for two seasons now, thanks to Colin Kaepernick."
Lisa Joy Hoffpauir added that to watch NFL players on TV is "condoning their disrespect."
Some disagreed, insisting that the players are exercising their rights as Americans.
Higgins said he didn't expect the voluminous response to his message, nor did he plan for it.
"Some of the most successful things we do are things we didn't plan," he said.
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