Even though the Super Bowl is the highest rated and most watched television program annually, one South Carolina restaurant won’t show the big game on Feb. 4.
That’s because the owner of the Palmetto Restaurant and Ale House in Greenville has been turning off NFL games for almost the entire season. And that won’t change on Super Bowl Sunday.
The restaurant will not show Super Bowl LII, and its Facebook page it’s promoting an alternative event featuring live music starting at 6 p.m. Sunday.
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David McCraw, owner of the Palmetto Restaurant and Ale House, turned off all NFL games on Sept. 24, 2017. The U.S. Air Force veteran said he took his stand because many NFL players didn’t during the national anthem.
“It’s disrespectful to those who have died defending our country,” McCraw said Monday, confirming that none of his restaurant’s 30-plus televisions will be showing the Super Bowl because of NFL players kneeling or otherwise protesting during the playing of the national anthem as the American flag is displayed. “It shows extraordinary disrespect to those who have risked their lives and have lost their lives.”
NFL players protests have primarily been in response to police brutality. The protests have occurred during the Star Spangled Banner, with players refusing to stand or conducting other acts of defiance.
The issue was inflamed by President Donald Trump, players who protest should be fired and using a derogatory term for any player who protests.
McCraw claims he didn’t know about Trump’s comments when he decided to boycott the games, saying “It was a coincidence our feelings were the same.”
Since turning off NFL games, the 50-year-old McCraw hasn’t relented in his stance. No games have been shown at the restaurant over the past four months.
No games will be shown anytime soon – not even the matchup between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles – unless the NFL makes a significant change.
“These guys are employees of the NFL. As long as the NFL condones disrespecting the national anthem, disrespecting the flag, disrespecting those who have fought and those who have died, and disrespecting the police, I won’t show it,” said McCraw, a South Carolina alum who said he has been a financial adviser for 25 years and has owned the restaurant since it opened in 2012.
So rather than watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, patrons of Palmetto Restaurant and Ale House will have the opportunity to listen to some local musicians perform. While McCraw knows this will hurt his business, something he said boycotting the NFL has done on Sunday’s, he’s at peace with his decision.
“This decision was never a business decision,” stated McCraw, who said his overall sales numbers for the past four months are above where they were in 2016, but that is because of the strength of the restaurant six days a week, while sales have dropped on Sundays. “The fact is I’m not showing the NFL and I’m going to lose customers. … I’m not showing a product people want to see, so people are not going to come.”
Instead, McCraw is promoting the music show.
The cover photo for Palmetto Restaurant and Ale House’s Facebook page makes it clear where the restaurant stands on the issue, as the NFL season is drawing to a close. The image is of AT&T Stadium in Dallas with large lettering across the photo saying “Boycott the NFL” with the U.S. flag in the type.
In the top, left corner of the image is the NFL logo, with a slash going through it, while the bottom of the image includes the message “And honor them,” with an arrow pointing to a man and woman wearing camouflage fatigues.
In spite of his strong stance, McCraw said he actually supports the players and their right to protest. He just doesn’t want them doing it during the playing of the national anthem, while the flag is displayed.
“I’m not against the protest, (NFL players) have the right to protest, and I have the right no to show their product in my business,” McCraw said. “Truthfully, there is injustice in the world. … If they can come to a reasonable time to protest, and not disrespect the flag and the anthem I will show the NFL again.”
Even if McCraw does put NFL games back on at the restaurant, some things have changed since he “went viral,” as he put it, holding interviews with Time and Fox News along with other media outlets on the subject.
On social media, McCraw received lots of support for his stance in addition to significant criticism. It wasn’t just local, he received pledges from people in other states to make a pilgrimage to Palmetto Restaurant and Ale House because of the boycott, while others blasted the restaurant and gave it negative reviews in online rating agencies.
McCraw said he was exposed to hatred as well as threats of violence and threats against his wife, who he said played no part in the decision to boycott NFL games.
He said people in his inner circle have also confronted him about his decision, including a black friend he continues to disagree with on the boycott, but one he respects and appreciates for communicating why he believes NFL players are protesting.
“This was never about race. It was never about the cause. It was about the timing of their protest,” McCraw said. “It’s not based out of race, it’s based out of being a veteran. … I would support them on any issue if they wanted to protest, but not during the national anthem.”