St. Petersburg, Fla.–based Diamonds Direct Fine Jewelers has grabbed hold of the latest political football—in every sense of the term—by announcing it will pull its ads from future NFL games.
Diamonds Direct’s message, posted on Facebook on Monday, said it will “not be purchasing advertisements during any NFL games until the organization respects the flag and anthem.” (One-store Diamonds Direct has no relation to the national chain; the two companies are currently in litigation.)
“We 100% support the right to protest and the fight against injustices in our nation,” said the message, issued on behalf of founder and CEO Gary Sanchez, a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard. “But we do not at all support disrespecting the American flag and national anthem in the process. Share if you agree.”
At press time, Diamonds Direct’s post—which it paid to promote on Facebook and was illustrated with a picture of Sanchez, armed and in his Coast Guard uniform—had received 3,500 likes, 1,215 shares, and 385 comments.
Most expressed support, with some vowing to buy a diamond there. Some complained the protesters are “rich” and “whiners.”
Yet, with the country polarized and many citizens angry and divided, the reaction was not all positive, with an equally vociferous group of posters taking issue with both the post and the store.
“It’s not about disrespecting the flag or the national anthem,” wrote one. “It is about drawing attention to inequality in our nation and it has certainly done that…America affords its citizens the constitutionally protected right to protest. Why would any American not support our freedoms under the Constitution?”
Others felt that Diamonds Direct was simply expressing its Constitutional right, like the players were: “All you people who sit there and say they have a right to protest are 100% correct. Gary also has the right to do what he wants with his business.”
And some lamented how much politics—and politicians—are currently breaking the country apart.
“Congratulations to both sides,” wrote one person. “We are already divided and now after reading the above, I see that the division has morphed to the Grand Canyon. This is no longer a discussion about who or what ‘matters,’ it is no longer a discussion. Nobody wins, everybody loses.”
But amid all the rancor, there were at least attempts at dialogue.
One poster wrote: “I’m curious why you chose this particular issue to take a stance against. I don’t recall you speaking out against the Nazis who disrespected our flag by carrying it in their march in Charlottesville while they touted white supremacy. They incited violence, but the NFL players are protesting peacefully, the American way.”
Diamonds Direct replied: “Had [the white supremacists] marched and disrespected the flag on our time and dollar during a program our business supported, we would have 100% pulled advertising from such program and would have announced doing so on Facebook, except with more wrath and anger than in this case. We believe white supremacy has no place in our country and we actually support the argument the football players are making but we still see not standing for the flag as a sign of disrespect.”
Sanchez told JCK that he wasn’t taking a political stand, and he feels that the decision on whether to fire the players should be up to the owners.
“My intention has nothing to do with politics,” he says. “I support what the players are saying. I’m ex-military, and I just object to the players disrespecting the flag, and I object to the NFL facilitating it.”
Last week, President Trump restarted the debate on the protest when he called on the National Football League to fire players who take a knee during the playing of the national anthem, describing them as “sons of b—-es.” Polls show Americans divided on the subject, with 61 percent disagreeing with the President that the NFL should fire kneeling players.
Diamonds Direct is not the first company to wade into controversial waters. Earlier this year, Tiffany expressed its support for remaining in the Paris Climate Agreement.
(First picture courtesy of Getty Images; second, Diamonds Direct)