by Steven A. Castleton

NFL Players are complaining about having a 18 game schedule. They complain about two a day practices. Their average signing bonus is on average $1.34 million, with the NFL average salary of about $1.1 million. The NBA is even more ridiculous with an average salary of $5.356 million with some players taking the day off from practice because they don’t like the coach (see Detroit Pistons).

Many people call these football players and other athletes hero’s and superstars. They are neither.

Let me tell you about a real hero.

Kristopher Gould, 25, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, died recently after his unit was hit by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

Ann Gould said this was her sons third tour of duty in the Middle East. He first went to Iraq with the Michigan Army National Guard, which he enlisted with while still at Valley Lutheran High School in Saginaw Township.

He joined the U.S. Army in 2007.

This was his second tour of Afghanistan and his unit had just deployed there in January, Ann Gould said.

Kristopher Gould was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Knox, Ky.

Ann, your son was a hero in every sense of the word. As a parent of two sons and a daughter-in-law who are all in the Army, I salute you and your family. To Tyler and Jennifer, your uncle was a real hero. Your uncle made the world a better place.

When I read the following comments, I was appalled.

In a statement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said working people stand shoulder to shoulder with the NFL players:

“Unfortunately, the NFL and its 32 team owners, who have enjoyed the fruits of a $9 billion industry in a devastating economy for working families, could not reach a fair deal with the men who risk their health and safety to play professional football.”

You have to be kidding? Health and safety?

Tight hamstring for the players and miss two weeks. Survive a IED blast and back on patrol for the soldiers.

Chartered luxury jets with steak for dinner for the players, cargo transports and MRE’s for the soldiers?

That $9,000,000,000.00 that they do not know how to share could buy:

50 F18E Super Hornets at a cost of: $3,000,000,000.00

100 MRAP’s at a cost of $100,000,000.00 (MRAP, whose V-shaped hull puts the crew more than 3 feet off the ground and deflects explosions. It was designed to withstand the underbelly bombs that cripple the lower-riding Humvees. The IEDs,(the makeshift bombs) are the No. 1 killer of U.S. forces.

5,000 Armored Humvees $1,000,000,000.00

100,000 MRE’s of baked ravioli or Salisbury steak $725,000.00

100,000 new body armor vests $150,000,000.00

And there would still be over $4,849,275,000.00 left over which we could use to give our active duty soldiers and veterans the same health care facilities these pampered athletes receive.

What did it take to get the NFL’s Billion Dollar “dispute” off the front page? A Tsunami that caused over 180,000 people to flee their homes and probably killed over 10,000 people.

Where are our priorities?

What I wonder is who noticed that Army 1st Lt. Brian N. Bradshaw was killed in Afghanistan the same day Michael Jackson died. He was fighting in the War on Terrorism. He was keeping us safe. Soldiers like him have made the ultimate sacrifice so that entertainers like Michael Jackson could earn the millions of dollars they do for “entertaining us”.

Army 1st Lt. Brian N. Bradshaw was earning less than $5,000.00 per month (including combat pay and benefits) . To put that in further perspective; Johnny Depp once left a $4,000.00 TIP at a restaurant!

Brian’s aunt Martha Gillis wrote a letter to the Washington Post saying about her nephew “He was a search-and-rescue volunteer, an altar boy, a camp counselor. He carried the hopes and dreams of his parents willingly on his shoulders. What more than that did Michael Jackson do or represent that earned him memorial “shrines,” while this soldier’s death goes unheralded?”

What about memorial “shrines,” for the 40 heroic passengers and crew of flight 93 who gave their lives to save countless lives of complete strangers?

Bradshaw’s aunt Martha further said, “He had old-fashioned values and believed that military service was patriotic and that actions counted more than talk. He wasn’t much for talking, although he could communicate volumes with a raised eyebrow.”

I was watching the news that evening on one of the big 3 networks, and the “teleprompter reader” (I most certainly cannot call him a journalist) again talked about Michael Jacksons funeral, then half-heartedly said, “and the bodies of five American servicemen came home today.”

Will the city of Los Angeles or the state of California give their families a police escort to the service? Will the city even give a homeless veteran a hot meal? How about a ride to the hospital for a check-up? After the million dollar memorial service paid for with tax dollars in a bankrupt state, that is the very least they can do.

Maybe I am wrong, but our sense of priorities in this country is out of whack.

As far as the NFL players and owners, let them all run and hide in Canada. That’s where all those who once were afraid to serve this great country ran to.

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