Legendary baseball broadcaster Vin Scully was the attraction Saturday night at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, as part of the venue’s Distinguished Speaker Series. During An Evening with Vin Scully, the longtime voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers shared stories and experiences from his 67 years of calling games for the team.

But a remark Scully made toward the end of the event is currently drawing attention in regards to current events. The Q&A discussion turned to the issue of player protests during the national anthem, something that has dominated sports discussion for the past couple of months, especially since Donald Trump criticized NFL players for kneeling during the anthem.

Scully has long been one of the most thoughtful, reasoned voices in sports broadcasting during his career, often taking the opportunity to lend perspective to issues and sharing historical lessons to audiences who could learn (or be reminded) from what he said on Dodgers broadcasts.

That was the case when Scully commented on player protests, though what he ultimately said might surprise many people. Naturally, that depends on which side you’ve taken in the debate over these protests. Scully said “I will never watch another NFL game again” because of this. Here is video of the remarks:

“I am so disappointed. And I used to love, during the fall and winter, to watch the NFL on Sunday,” said Scully. “It’s not that I’m some great patriot. I was in the Navy for a year, didn’t go anywhere, didn’t do anything. But I have overwhelming respect and admiration for anyone who puts on a uniform and goes to war.

“So the only thing I can do in my little way is not to preach. I will never watch another NFL game.”

As NFL reporter Ed Werder points out, that sentiment coming from someone as renowned and respected as Scully isn’t good for the league. Nor is the enthusiastic reaction from the audience after Scully said he’d never watch another NFL game again. (Not to mention this is circulating as Sunday’s Week 9 games are about to begin.) But as Scully explained it, this isn’t an impulsive response from him. His service and feelings about those who serve in the military inform his feelings on the subject.

Plenty of people will respond to Scully’s remarks by saying that the NFL player protests, in addition to demonstrations by athletes across sports, aren’t about the American flag or views toward the military. Beginning with Colin Kaepernick, the protests are intended to draw attention to racial inequality, especially within the criminal justice system in regards to police brutality toward black people in this country.

Others will also mention that Scully was the longtime voice of the Dodgers, who made one of history’s greatest statements against racial injustice and inequality by being the first major league team to sign a black player in Jackie Robinson. How would Robinson feel about these player protests? How might he respond to how Scully has chosen to frame the issue in his view?

Or perhaps he has taken Robinson into consideration and doesn’t believe that what current NFL players are protesting compares to what the Dodgers great experienced in his time.

Some will surely be disappointed by Scully’s remarks, believing that someone who has been a voice of reason for decades, is taking what many will view as the wrong side in this debate. But it’s become clear that many others perceive kneeling during the national anthem as a show of disrespect for the American flag — a symbol they love and cherish — and our troops. Even an association with the NFL is enough to stir up feelings among those who are offended and outraged.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is an editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has covered baseball for Yahoo! Sports, MLive.com, Bleacher Report and SB Nation, and provides analysis for several sports talk radio shows each week. He currently lives in Asheville, NC.

  • Rey Henry

    jackie robinson was a lieutenant in the US army. he was almost kicked out for refusing to sit at the back of a bus, a decade before rosa parks.
    vin needs to remember how robinson was expected to fight for freedom while not having known of his own.

    • We know exactly how Robinson felt about the national anthem:

      https://www.snopes.com/jackie-robinson-anthem/

      • Jon

        Now we know that Vin Scully hates Jackie Robinson.

    • newdog301

      What does that have to do with anything?

      Is showing pride in your country by standing for the National Anthem comparable to being forced to give up your seat on a bus?

  • BobLee Says

    Everyone who is likely to have an opinion about The NFL “kneelers” has already formed their opinion. Now it is simply a matter of strongly disliking anyone who doesn’t share your opinion. … We can probably say that about any of dozens of front page issues these days… can’t we?

  • Jon

    The problem Werder points out goes to the fact that a website, even one covering sports, can be a niche website that skews to the left or right (Deadspin vs. Outkick the Coverage). But the NFL has built its success model out of capturing as wide an audience as possible across the political spectrum. It can’t rake in the same amount of $$$ or get the same type of public support for new taxpayer-supported stadiums or practice facilities in the future if it’s seen as a niche league. That’s where Scully’s comment should be worrisome to NFL owners, where the problem isn’t going to be solved by Vin and his generation dying off.

  • YoDudes

    What does the military or the navy have to do with anthem protests, Mr Scully? You have no clue what you’re talking about.
    Now go keep waiting for karma to hit the Astros.

    • I wish I knew how “protesting against injustice” became “this insults our military.” Or why we treat the military with such utter limitless fealty.

      • newdog301

        Because you’re doing it during a moment honoring the flag.

        I wish I knew how standing up meant you thought there were no problems in America and kneeling meant you didn’t.

        The ironic thing is that if a fan decided to take a knee in protest on the lawn of any of these players the first thing they would do is call the cops.

        • namingrightsforsale

          The flag has no value beyond its status as a symbol of the country, so they’re doing it during a moment “honoring” the country. But how, exactly, is using a visible moment to motivate discussion about the major problems plaguing the country not honoring the country and the principles it was founded on?

          • newdog301

            Let’s say a son is giving a speech at his father’s funeral. Is that the time to interrupt and say, “You know, Kenny, you still owe me $200 bucks!”

            It is not appropriate for the time, but what’s worse is that all of these people do not even believe in their cause. They’re all doing this because they know a portion of people on social media will praise them and that’s what too many individuals chase these days: likes, favorites and retweets.

            I have yet to see a single argument about how a player making millions to play football taking a knee is going to make a corrupt cop stop being corrupt or to cause a racist in Georgia to start treating people equally.

          • namingrightsforsale

            Paragraph by paragraph:

            1. That is a ridiculous comparison, sorry. They aren’t grabbing all the attention during the anthem, the anthem is not the same as a memorial service in solemnity, and they aren’t not doing so for something as trivial as $200.

            2. Why are you so confident in saying that they’re doing it to chase retweets rather than because they’ve actually experienced the reality of how poorly America treats poor people and minorities and genuinely want to fix it?

            3. It’s not going to directly cause those people to change their terrible behavior, but why does something have to have an immediate effect for it to be a valid protest? Starting a conversation and increasing awareness about things are necessary steps to fix ingrained societal problems such as racism.

          • newdog301

            If you want to bring equality you don’t do things that are purposely going to be divisive. Taking a knee is going to upset a lot of people. You know that going in.

            Did people suggest boycotting the NBA when players wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts? Or when the Miami Heat took a photo all wearing hoodies for Trayvon?

            There are ways to go about getting a message across. Purposely disrespecting something that is important to most Americans (and then having the gall to say you’re not disrespecting it and it makes you more of a patriot) is not the way to go about it.

            Bottom line: are we more divided or less divided on social issues before or after the protests started. I would say more.

            When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier do you think people were more adamant about African Americans being banned from baseball? No. He was still met with great hostility and horrible hatred, but some saw that he was such a special talent that maybe we should reevaluate the situation, and reevaluate a lot of our lives.

          • namingrightsforsale

            I don’t view kneeling during the national anthem as disrespecting the flag or the country, and I highly doubt any of the players doing so view it that way either. You insist that this “protest = disrespect” viewpoint be accommodated but then are quick to dismiss the opposing viewpoint as lacking validity. Is that really fair?

            I’m willing to allow that people might not be able to overcome their sensitivity towards perceived slighting of nationalistic rituals, but if that’s the case, what should be done instead?

          • Deon Hamner

            Can someone please answer this one question. How can taking a knee disrespect our military, when it was a former green beret or navy seal who told Kap to do that over sitting? The hypocrisy on both sides is too much.. Like gun control. There is just a line in the sand and NOBODY is moving…

          • sowhat2015Brian O’Neill

            It’s a bunch of players, many of whom are millionaires, bitching about ‘economic inequality’. Maybe if they donated a year’s salary to underprivileged people, an action that could have visible and tangible results, they would get more support from the fans. Kneeling before others standing at attention isn’t making the point the players wanted to make.

          • namingrightsforsale

            This is such a standard way of trying to invalidate and discredit someone pointing out a problem. Why is it the responsibility of the players to alleviate income inequality by themselves?

          • sowhat2015Brian O’Neill

            Because contributing money is actually ‘doing something’, as opposed to ‘taking a knee because that’s the cool thing right now’.Screw Kaepernick for becoming so cuckolded by that idiot girlfriend of his, Trump for giving the idiot even more attention, and the rest of the NFL for thinking everybody needed to defend ‘their guy’ against Trump. Result: Fewer people really care about the NFL. Good move.

  • Karl Kolchak

    Just like his Venezuela comments, the dumb old bastard has no idea what he is talking about and should just STFU and go away already.

    • Johnny America

      LOL what? Many people agree with him, NFL ratings are in the tank. Even the NFL admits they lost that battle with President Trump.

    • newdog301

      Standing for the anthem does not mean you are saying there are no issues in this country.

      They play the anthem before games to unite fans and remind them there are bigger things than sports. It should not be a divisive issue, but in 2017 every single thing has to be one side vs. the other side.

    • Ja

      People are starving because of socialism in Venezuela

      • namingrightsforsale

        People are starving because of capitalism in America.

  • Roger in Orlando

    Far more worrying to the NFL that under 25s have limited interest in watching steroided, concussed athletes brawling over a pigskin. Even if they’re hip to the protests. But to Vin’s pojnt, the only argument necessary was Simon DelMonte’s link to the Jackie Robinson/Snopes-checked attitudes towards flag/anthem protests. Vin is selectively forgetting history.

  • sportsfan365

    He’s certainly within his right to make his own choice. I would have been more impressed though if he had decided to abandon the NFL for its callous attitude towards player injuries and long time fans.

  • Boardman Koko B Ware

    At first I was like ‘Wow really Vin?”. But then you take a step back. He comes from a generation that greatly values traditional ideas about patriotism. And if to him a relatively small numbers of players taking a knee during the anthem upsets him to the point of not wanting to watch, silly though that may seem, it’s his right. Even though his political leanings sharply differ from mine, I’ll still consider him a national treasure.
    I went to the Panthers/Falcons game today. Here was about 70,000 people with a strong mix of black and white having fun, rooting for their teams, not caring less about politics. And I thought “Wow what a great thing”. Sports really can be a tremendous tool to unite people of different backgrounds at a time when our nation seems more divisive than its ever been in recent memory. It’s a shame people continue to still sensationalize this anthem controversy just to stir up their political bases instead of looking for ways we can get back to becoming more united as a nation. Sadly I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

    • noonan18

      I agree to your point but would just like to add that if you took the media’s at its word, you would think everyone hated each other. In reality, you see things like what happened after these hurricanes and all the people coming together to help one another, that’s what most communities are like. Same with this supposed racism that rampant throughout the country. Its another complete falsehood. Yes. There are always going to be a share of idiots, but most people don’t care what you look like or where you come from, especially if you are a good person.

  • Quinton McLargeHuge

    I’m sure that his love for the military dates back to his having been a teenager in New York City during WW2. Probably seeing all the young men in his neighborhood go to war and many not coming back gave him a great appreciation of the military and all the sacrifices made by those men. It was a lot more real for the people at home in the 1940’s and to him the National Anthem is part of paying respect to those men. He grew up in a different era than the people commenting here and we are all shaped by our experiences. (That being said, I don’t think the anthem protests are disrespecting the military).

  • Jon

    Sorry to hear that Vin is a racist. He had a chance to be thoughtful. He blew it. Now what happens if it spreads to baseball, Vin?

    • Sting Rey

      vin prefers the dodgers be like their home unis, all white.

      he probbly doesnt remember anything about jackie robinson and his military service.

    • sowhat2015Brian O’Neill

      Bruce Maxwell? The idiot who pulled a gun on some fast foo delivery person? He probably killed any chance of the ‘movement’ taking off in baseball. Besides, what percentage of MLB players are African-American these days, compared to the NFL? Most of the ‘black’ baseball players come from (and still live in) other countries.

  • Sam Base

    MLB did a helluva lot more wrong to America’s ideals than not standing for the National Anthem. Vinny baby had no trouble with those things apparently. Maybe because he was getting paid to keep his mouth shut. Pathetic.