The New Orleans Saints were among the NFL teams who waged protests this weekend, opting to sit instead of stand to honor our flag and country during the playing of the National Anthem before their game on Sunday. Then, on Monday, a Louisiana lawmaker decided he would put the entitled football players in their places by taking from them the one thing they love most in the world.
Louisiana Rep. Kenny Havard (left), Hau’oli Kikaha #44 of the New Orleans Saints sacks Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 24, 2017, in Charlotte, North Carolina (right) (Photo Credit: Screengrab/YouTube, Grant Halverson/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images)
Football took a backseat to misguided protests this weekend as NFL teams demonstrated their opposition to comments made by President Donald Trump last Friday to supporters in Alabama. Trump did not mince words when it came to professional athletes who kneel during the National Anthem, saying, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now.’ Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”
The New Orleans Saints were among the teams which protested Trump’s remarks on Sunday ahead of their game against the Panthers. “I would say, personally, I am disappointed in the comments that were made,” said Saints coach Sean Payton. “I think we need a little bit more wisdom in that office. That’s being a little blunt, but that’s how I feel. I want that guy to be one of the smarter guys in the room, and it seems like every time he’s opening his mouth, it’s something that is dividing our country and not pulling us together,” he added.
According to The Advocate, the Saints and Pelicans organizations released a statement roughly half an hour before the start of Sunday’s game, saying that Trump’s comments were “disappointing and inappropriate.” Then, tackle Terron Armstead remained in the locker room while the National Anthem was being played as a form of protest. Meanwhile, 14 of his teammates protested on the field.
Rafael Bush, Kenny Vaccaro, Chris Banjo, Sheldon Rankins, Alex Okafor, Cameron Jordan, Adrian Peterson, Alvin Kamara, Brandon Coleman, and Mark Ingram all sat on the bench during The Star-Spangled Banner. Thomas Morstead, Marshon Lattimore, Craig Robinson, and Coby Fleener stood nearby with their hands on their teammates’ shoulders. “I am proud of every one of them,” coach Payton said.
Come Monday morning, Louisiana State Rep. Kenny Havard (R-St. Francisville) announced that he wants to cut millions of state tax dollars, exemptions, and credits allocated to the Saints, the NFL, and any of those groups’ associated facilities that receive funding. “The very reason (the Saints) have the privilege and opportunity to play professional football while being paid millions is because someone in uniform died protecting their right to do so,” Havard said. “It is a disgrace to the men and women of this nation and state who have sacrificed so much,” he continued.
“Disrespecting our national anthem and flag in the name of social injustice is the highest form of hypocrisy,” added Havard. “Our free society made possible by our fighting men and women has made available free education, free lunch, housing, and free healthcare and is now being considered socially unjust,” he said. “It is time the taxpayers quit subsidizing protest on big boy playgrounds. I believe in the right to protest but, not at a taxpayer-subsidized sporting event. Do it on your own time. There are plenty of disabled children, elderly and veterans in this state that would appreciate the money.”
According to a 2015 Forbes report, Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson was “set to rake in an estimated $392 million from state subsidies through 2025.” The report said that during the Mercedes-Benz Superdome lease “the state will pay Benson at least $198 million in increased revenue from the Superdome, $142 million in rental payments on property Benson owns, $10 million in bonuses for bringing the Super Bowl to New Orleans and $2.6 million in tax breaks. Benson will get another $40 million from private rent payments to a tower he bought as part of the deal.”
Rep. Havard is exactly right. The Saints and their billionaire owner are perhaps the least deserving people of the millions of tax dollars being thrown at them each year. That money could be better put towards programs for veterans, the people who risked their lives so those self-entitled athletes could sit on their behinds instead of honoring the country which has afforded them such opportunity. If these football players want to protest, fine. However, they absolutely should not be paid to do so.
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