Local bar won't buy NFL package because of player protests

The issue of NFL national anthem protests has stirred up debate from coast to coast. And now, a Brooksville restaurant owner is taking a stand on kneeling.

Curtis and Janet West, who own Beef O'Brady's on 31120 Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville, say they're canceling their DIRECTV NFL Sunday Ticket package this season.

"Last year, with the kneeling and the disrespect to our veterans and our flag and our country, I was very upset," said Curtis West.

With the money saved, which is about $5,200, they're offering veterans 40-percent off food on Sunday game days. He hung posters around the restaurant to alert customers of the change.

The posters read, "Beef O'Brady's will not be financially supporting the NFL this year due to their lack of compassion and gratitude for our American service members. Our National Anthem is one of the methods we as American citizens have always used to show our appreciation to all military service members, past or present, alive or dead. This tradition deserves respect and unfortunately, the NFL does not feel that same way. So, for this season, we will not be purchasing the NFL ticket. Perhaps, it will make a difference if it hits their wallets."

"I am an American patriot," West said. "I am not that kind of guy, but it makes me angry, it really does. The people that are doing the protests, I don't believe their intention is to disrespect our veterans but that is what has come from this."

"This is what we are doing, this is the stance we take, and the money we would've spent, we are going to spend on our vets," West added.

It's not totally football-free at this Beef O'Brady's. West says he'll still air whatever games are being played on local channels, since he's not paying specifically for them.

On-field demonstrations began with Colin Kaepernick in 2016. He took a knee, protesting racial inequality and social injustice. Other players began kneeling during the national anthem in solidarity. Some vets knelt with them, including WWII vet John Middlemas, whose photo went viral.

Then, in May of this year, the NFL created a policy to fine those not standing for the anthem. It was later put on hold while the league and NFL Players' Association work on a resolution.

It's gone from the football field to the political arena, with President Donald Trump making his position widely known, as he did last week at his rally in Tampa, proclaiming, "Yes, we are proudly standing up for our national anthem."

West knows it's a move that could potentially mean slower business on game days. "I am worried about that, that's for sure," he said.

It could mean fewer tips for wait staff. "I tell them hang in there because they might be just fine and don't you worry about it because we have a very generous community and they take care of our wait staff very well," West said. "So, I don't think they are going to be impacted negatively by this."

West says it's a risk worth taking, to stand for what he believes in.

"We are proud to support our troops. We don't kneel. And thank you for your service," West said, reading one of the posters. "It's a big deal to us."