STURBRIDGE (CBS) – A Massachusetts business has found itself in the middle of the debate over NFL protests during the national anthem.
Sturbridge-based Garieri Jewelers purchased a billboard in Charlton that shows a man proposing to a woman on a football field.
“I have between three and five seconds to get your attention while you’re driving by,” said Scott Garieri, who is getting more attention than he bargained for.
His billboard reads: “If you’re going to take a knee this season, please have a ring in your hand!”
“That’s what we do,” Garieri said. “We sell engagement rings.”
But as President Trump lashes out at Nike’s new Colin Kaepernick ads and NFL players are kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, the phrase “taking a knee” touches a national nerve.
“We didn’t even think, we just thought, well a good play of words,” Garieri said.
And while some got a chuckle out of it, a crowd of critics hit social media, calling it racist, disgusting, bigoted. One even told Garieri’s daughter to kill herself and other graphic threats.
“And they’re going to urinate on our sidewalks and vomit on our showcases. It’s like, you know, what’s wrong with people?” he asks.
It’s not the first time Garieri has put up a controversial billboard. Last year it read, “Make her speechless…for a change.”
Now the new billboard is creating controversy.
“It is a very sensitive subject, and it’s just not something to be joked about or played around with,” one driver told WBZ.
Garieri says the billboard will not come down until after the football season. “It’s not coming down,” he says.
No matter which side of this issue you take, bottom line, this billboard has people talking, and it’s spreading the name of this jewelry store, which is what any advertisement aims to do.