A disabled Navy veteran has refused to receive an honor from the New Orleans Saints due to some players taking a knee during the national anthem. From NOLA.com:

Retired Navy Cmdr. John Wells, executive director of the national Military Veterans Advocacy, was named a Peoples Health Champion, an award given by the Medicare health insurance advantage organization to citizens over 65 who have made significant accomplishments after reaching “senior citizen” status.

But on Wednesday, Wells told the organization he was unable “in good conscience, to enter an NFL stadium” while some players “disrespect” the American flag by kneeling or sitting during the anthem. Some Saints players in recent weeks have kneeled before the anthem, then stood while the anthem is sung.

Wells served in the Navy from 1972 to 1994. After his service, he became an attorney and specializes in military and veterans law. He cannot believe that the NFL has not done anything to stop the protests:

“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,” Wells said. “”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.”

The Saints are disappointed, but reminded Wells and the rest of the community that the organization has a history of honoring those who served:

“We will not allow Mr. Wells’ decision and subsequent media appearances to distract our players and organization from continuing to honor and support our military and veterans. We, as an organization, have decided to move on from this sad and divisive discourse and focus our attention on supporting our military and veterans.”

Others in New Orleans have also lashed out against the team for the protests. The Advocate reported that a lot of “local establishments responded by refusing to show the games.” One local Lafayette beer distributor promised to “stop selling Saints and NFL branded point-of-sale items” while “a Slidell Mardi Gras krewe disinvited two of the players who were seated — Alex Okafor and Kenny Vaccaro — from being grand marshals in their January parade.”


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