A retired Navy officer has declined an award that would have been given to him at an upcoming National Football League (NFL) game, according to WDSU 6 News.
WDSU on Thursday reported that Cmdr. John Wells will not accept the honor at this Sunday’s New Orleans Saints contest due to the NFL’s ongoing national anthem protests.
Wells was selected for the Peoples Health Champion Award, which is given to people who have “significant accomplishments” and have achieved “senior citizen status.”
“I am unable, in good conscience, to enter an NFL stadium while this discourtesy prevails,” he wrote to executives of Peoples Health and the Saints.
“I had hoped and prayed that the NFL would outlaw these disgraceful protests and wanted to give the commissioner and the owners a fair opportunity to do so,” Wells added.
“Their failure to act is a slap in the face to all of those who served in uniform. Men and women have fought and died for the flag that the players are disrespecting.”
Wells additionally noted that the award has been “tainted with dishonorable actions” by the NFL and its players.
The award would have been presented to Wells during this Sunday’s game between the Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Wells is also executive director of Military Veterans Advocacy, a national organization based in Slidell, Louisiana that works in the interest of veterans and active-duty military personnel.
Scores of NFL employees – mainly players – have knelt during the national anthem since President Trump criticized the move last September.
Trump called on the NFL to fire its employees who perform the gesture, and he has since repeatedly argued it is unpatriotic.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 2016 to protest America’s racial injustice.
Kaepernick’s current status as a free agent has led some of his supporters to speculate the NFL’s teams are ignoring him due to his activism on the issue.
We asked veterans how they really feel about the NFL anthem protests.