GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio -- Geauga County Sheriff Scott A. Hildenbrand has prohibited any off-duty details at NFL games and is promising not to attend any games the rest of the season after this past weekend's NFL protests.
In a massive show of defiance this past weekend, more than 200 NFL players protested words spoken by President Donald Trump by choosing not to stand for the national anthem. Many coaches locked arms with the players.
The protest followed a Friday rally in Huntsville, Alabama, where Trump said: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a (expletive) off the field right now, out, he’s fired, he’s fired.”
Hildenbrand said in a post on Facebook, that his uncle was the first Geauga County resident killed in Vietnam. At the Geauga County Fair, he was presented a pin and certificate in his uncle's honor.
Then Sunday, he said, he attended a Browns game in Indianapolis and, where at least 21 Browns players kneeled while "the entire stadium made up of all races, ages, sex, religion and careers stood and removed theirs hats. All the police officers working in uniform were saluting."
"As far as I am concerned almost the entire league disrespected every veteran that ever fought or died for this Country. These protests are not about unity, unity was the other 70,000 fans that stood. I truly believe this is about the Police, Law Enforcement and our government. For that reason, effective immediately any off duty details at NFL Games are prohibited.
We all have hard and sometime dangerous jobs that we work every day. Most people respect and appreciate what you all do. I did not have honor to serve but many of you have, and I thank you for that. I feel we all serve every day as our first line of defense here at home. I’m concerned when the main act stands in front of the crowd, before the game even starts, and commits a blatant disrespectful act towards our flag, our Country, our Veterans and our first responders. If they do not have respect for us and our Country only bad things will come of that. We will not be a part of these activities.
My season ticket seats will remain empty the rest of the season."
Responses on the post from page followers were mixed.
One replied: "Well said Sheriff Hildebrand. God bless you and your dept. Thank you for keeping us safe!!!!"
Another rebutted: "Making it so your employees can't do side work because your upset isn't exactly the right thing to do. Sit out all you want but too punish everyone else because your hurt is just wrong."
“When the players and the main act stand out there in front of the crowd and show disrespect, that's going to reverberate at some point, and it's going to cause problems and our guys are going to have problems with people and possibly get hurt,” Hildenbrand said, adding that deputies get approval for off-duty employment, and 4-5 deputies usually work Browns games.