(House of Representatives - September 26, 2017)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Page H7491]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                              {time}  1015

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from West 
Virginia (Mr. Mooney) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. MOONEY of West Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to applaud 
President Trump for his comments last week which criticized the few NFL 
players who have chosen to kneel in protest during our national anthem. 
The President is right to publicly object to this disrespect to our 
flag and Nation. While we can disagree on politics and policies, we 
should not denigrate our flag and our national anthem.
  I must mention that most NFL players stood in respect for the flag. 
It is just a few who didn't, who gave them a bad name and the sport a 
bad name.
  In response to President Trump's criticism, NFL Commissioner Roger 
Goodell called the President's remarks divisive. I would respond to Mr. 
Goodell that it is you and your players who disrespect our flag and our 
national anthem who are being divisive. The President defending our 
flag is not divisive.
  My father and thousands of other Americans fought under our flag in 
the jungles of Vietnam. Young men and women have died recently in 
service to our flag in Iraq and Afghanistan. In my house, we honored 
our flag not only because of my father's service, but because of the 
deep sense of patriotism my parents instilled in me.
  My mother, Lala Suarez Mooney, was born and raised in Fidel Castro's 
Cuba, where she and other members of her family were thrown into jail 
for opposing Castro's Communist regime. When she was 20, my mother 
escaped Cuba and fled to America with barely a penny to her name. My 
mom and millions of other immigrants leave the flags of these other 
countries--brutal dictatorships, Communist regimes, and other 
oppressive regimes--to come to America to live under our flag.
  All Americans, whether you came as an immigrant or you were born 
here, you stay to live under this flag. If you don't like it, you don't 
have to stay. You can go. No one is making you stay. We love this flag.
  Listening to my parents' inspiring stories, I knew from a young age 
that I absolutely believed in the American ideals of liberty as set 
forth by our Founding Fathers. It is with this same sense of honor and 
patriotism that I support President Trump in calling for all NFL 
players to honor our flag and remember what has made our country great.
  For a few hours many Sundays, I usually enjoy time with our son 
watching our favorite football teams battle on the gridiron. We root 
for different teams. As a nation, we forget about our political and 
other differences and come together to enjoy the sport of football. By 
these few players wrongly deciding to turn the game into a political 
statement, we lose that moment of national unity and respect for our 
  Sports have always been a unifying factor and a chance for the Nation 
to come together. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, owners, coaches, and 
a few players are showing a lack of respect for our Nation and her 
military who gives them the freedom to play football. As the men and 
women of our armed services face challenges at home or abroad, we 
should put our differences aside and unite around our flag as a beacon 
of hope and understanding. I certainly respect anyone's right to 
protest peacefully and the right of an NFL team owner to discipline 
disorderly conduct or rude behavior.
  Sadly, three NFL teams did not even leave the locker room to hear the 
playing of our national anthem. Just one person on those three teams, 
Pittsburgh Steeler Alejandro Villanueva, came out of the tunnel of the 
locker room. You can see other people standing back there in the 
tunnel. He came out of the tunnel of the locker room to honor our 
  Villanueva is a West Point graduate, former Army Ranger, and Bronze 
Star recipient. He knows the value of our flag. Sadly, instead of 
receiving the praise he deserved, many in the media attacked him. Even 
his coach, Mike Tomlin, said that when Alejandro Villanueva came out of 
that tunnel, he was ``not respectful of our football team.''
  Not respectful of the team? Really, Coach? How about respect for the 
flag? How about our country which soldiers die for and the flag that 
allows you to play that football game? Unbelievable.
  I hope all the young people out there look at Alejandro Villanueva as 
a beacon of honor and duty to his country above himself.
  Professional athletes in this Nation, whether they like it or not, 
are an example for our young people. They should stop injecting anti-
American politics into sports.
  I applaud, again, President Trump for standing up for our flag and 
our national anthem. All NFL athletes should stand together and do the