Business owner protests anthem protests

Bill Herlihy
Bill Herlihy

BRADENTON BEACH – Island Time and Bridge Street Bistro co-owner Bill Herlihy is taking a stand against athletes who refuse to stand for the national anthem.

The increasingly utilized form of expression started last year when San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the anthem to protest what he perceived as social injustices. Kaepernick is no longer in the NFL, but a growing number of NFL players continue to follow his lead.

“I am canceling my Direct TV NFL Ticket package. I will not support an organization that disrespects our flag, our country and the men and women that serve and have given their lives for us. If one million businesses follow my lead, it will cost the NFL $1.8 billion, not to mention all the advertising. We will see who is brought to their knees,” Herlihy said Sunday morning.

Sunday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers were the first of three teams that remained in their locker rooms during the national anthem.

According to ESPN.com, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said the intent was to remove the team from the controversial circumstances and not a sign of disrespect for the flag or the anthem. Before 2009, NFL teams remained in their locker rooms during the anthem.

As the day unfolded, more than 200 players, coaches and owners engaged in acts of peaceful protest, and many said their displays were inspired by comments and Tweets made by President Donald Trump.

Last week, Major League Baseball had its first player kneel during the national anthem. Similar protests are anticipated when the NBA seasons tips off in October.

“Baseball and the NBA are gone too,” Herlihy said of the comprehensive sports packages bars and restaurants pay extra for “I’m not going to funnel money to people that disrespect our flag and country.”

Island Time will continue showing sporting events aired as regular network programming.

“I’m going to try to get other businesses to follow suit. I have a friend who cancelled his suites and luxury boxes in Miami and Tampa. The NFL fines players for wearing the wrong brand of shoes or using a cell phone on the sidelines, but they’re letting players have these protests and shoving them in our faces. They have the right to protest, but this is not the right platform. That’s something they should do on their time, not our time,” Herlihy said.

Herlihy issued these statements while in Miami wrapping up his duties as president and general manager of First Response Catering. The catering firm provided catering services for more than 1,100 utility workers in an 11-day span that followed Hurricane Irma. The firm also donated food to the Miami Rescue Mission.

Island Time and Bridge Street Bistro host an annual Never Forget 9/11 fund-raiser that benefits the Manatee Emergency Service Memorial Fund. When this year’s event was cancelled due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma, Herlihy and his fiancé, Cheryl Douma, delivered lunches to some local fire stations. Douma is a Sarasota County firefighter and EMT.