In light of the ongoing controversy where NFL players and teams have been kneeling and sitting in protest during the national anthem, one navy veteran has turned down an honorary award he was due to receive at a recent Saints game.
Cdr. John Wells, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, was selected to receive the Peoples Health Champion Award, which was to be presented at the New Orleans Saints’s Week 8 game last Sunday, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The award is bestowed to those who have made “significant accomplishments” and have reached “senior citizen status.”
However, Wells, an executive director of the Military Veterans Advocacy in Slidell, decided to decline the award on account of the ongoing controversy with the NFL and the way in which players, and even teams, have been protesting during the playing of The Star Spangled Banner.
According to a press release, Wells wrote to executives at Peoples Health, and to the New Orleans Saints, and explained his reason for turning down the award.
He wrote, “Although I am touched and honored to be selected for such an award, the ongoing controversy with NFL players’ disrespect for the national flag forces me to decline to participate in the presentation.
“I am unable, in good conscience, to enter an NFL stadium while this discourtesy prevails. Since this award is tainted with the dishonorable actions of the NFL and its players, I cannot accept it. To do so would be hypocritical.”
Wells added that he “hoped and prayed” that the protests would be outlawed by the NFL, and was disappointed when the NFL chose to do nothing.
“Their failure to act is a slap in the face to all of those who have served in uniform. Men and women have fought and died for the flag that the players are disrespecting,” he said.
In response to Wells’s letter, Saints management said, “he has that right, and we thank him for his service to our country and his past efforts on behalf of the military and veterans.”
NFL players kneeling or sitting during the national anthem was first started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to protest against “police brutality and racism.” Though this form of protest gained some momentum, many fans feel insulted and disagree with this movement, and have expressed that such players have “crossed the line.”