A veterans bar in Lake Ozark, Missouri, has been criticized for its “creative” doormat jerseys denouncing NFL players who have refused to stand during the national anthem. However, the bar owner hasn’t been taken to task for exercising his free speech by taping Marshawn Lynch and Colin Kaepernick‘s jerseys to the ground, but rather for the order in which he taped them.
On the floor together, side by side, the jerseys doormat at the bar S.N.A.F.U. reads “Lynch” “Kaepernick,” appearing as a call for the physical lynching of the former 49ers player whose 2016 silent protests during the national anthem are at the heart of President Donald Trump‘s verbal attacks against NFL players who do the same.
According to KOMU 8, bar patron Taylor Sloan noticed the racial message of the doormat over the weekend and posted a message to the bar’s Facebook page. A “heated” back-and-forth between Sloan and bar owner Jason Burle ensued.
“That’s not the Missouri I know. It just kind of upset me really bad. Put a bad taste in my mouth,” Sloan told KOMU 8. “I thought I needed to document it.”
Despite the criticism, Burle, denies the doormat plays upon race nor is racist—he says he ordered the jerseys at the same time and taped them down in the order they came out of the box with no ill-intent.
The bar had previously posted about a lone Kaepernick jersey doormat in September of last year, the Independent noted. However, the Kaepernick jerseys in the 2016 and recent photos appear to have subtle differences on the sleeves and above Kaepernick’s name and appear to be taped down differently.
New door mat installed just in time for bikefest! Come wipe your feet on your way in!
— Tamikaye (@tammel2465) September 28, 2017
Burle could have ordered a second jersey along with Lynch’s, which would line up with the timing of Lynch’s protest. On Aug. 14, Sports Illustrated reported that Lynch had finally joined Kaepernick’s movement by sitting down during the national anthem before a preseason game.
Burle has insisted that he’s using the jerseys to stand up for his six-year service in the Air Force, as well as for other family members who served in the military (however, it should be noted that Kaepernick and other players are protesting racism, not the military). He says he started the bar as a way to honor military veterans and to give back to the community.
“We give discounts to veterans, we have a hall of heroes inside. We have flags that have flown overseas mounted inside,” Burle said. “A lot of us military folks take that personal to heart.”
It appears that Burle was more enraged by the fact that someone wanted to call out his actions online and in public, as he told the news station that the bar would have switched the jerseys as soon as Sloan brought the racist oversight in-person to Burle or a manager.
Despite his understanding but disagreement with NFL players expressing free speech, Burle has now flipped the order of the jerseys so that Kaepernick’s is on the left.
“I commend them for what they’re doing, as far as the right goes. I fought for that right,” Burle said. “The same thing that gives them that right gives me the right to place these out here.”
H/T the Root