The owner of a Wallingford sports bar has pulled the plug on showing NFL games in protest of some players who refuse to stand for the national anthem.
A sign outside of the Grand Central Sports Bar on Quinnipiac Street in Wallingford expresses the bar owner, Ed Rusczcyk’s sentiments in bold letters, ‘Due to the NFL’s disrespect to our nation’s flag, this sports bar will no longer televise NFL games.’
Dolphins fan, and long-time owner of the sports-themed bar, Rusczcyk told Eyewitness News on Sunday evening that he is aware that his motives will cost him business, but he said it is a sacrifice he is willing to make.
Rusczcyk said he is opposed to NFL players’ decision to kneel during the National Anthem, a trend that began in 2016 when former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt to protest police brutality and racial injustice.
Last week, President Trump said players should be fired if they did not stand for the national anthem. In response, over 200 NFL players knelt while the song was played.
"They should protest if they want to protest,” said Rusczcyk. “That's their right, but not to our flag. We got too many people who died for that flag and it’s just a sad thing that they do that."
As word of the bar’s NFL boycott spread, visitors said they were encouraged to visit the bar as a show of support.
"I am a veteran and I just drove all the way down from Litchfield county to show him my support as a veteran,” said Litchfield resident, Steve Saunders.
The issue of kneeling during the anthem has left many people divided, but some argue it is a misunderstanding of intention.
Patrons at the Scoreboard Bar and Grill in Waterbury, where NFL were being aired, Eyewitness News found no shortage of those on both sides of the issue.
“Veterans who are fighting the wars, they're not fighting for the national anthem, they're fighting for that war and representing themselves as patriots for the flag being flown,” said Marques King, who favors the players’ protest.
“That's what they're doing. I think this country is getting divided on the interpretation of it."
Owner of the Scoreboard, Frank Vigliotti told Eyewitness News that he personally is opposed to the kneeling, but he has NFL games playing on every screen to encourage the dialogue.
"We all have our own opinions about sports and about society,” said Vigliotti. “But, when it comes to sports we enjoy going back and forth.”
Friends, and patrons of the Scoreboard, Marquest Redding, and Bobby DiCosmo watch the game together, despite their opposing viewpoints.
“You know, everybody's opinion is different but at the end of the day were loving one game and that's football,” said Redding.
In Wallingford, Rusczcyk said he is hopeful more bars will follow his lead, and boycott the games.
Copyright 2017 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.