A New Orleans Saints fan and season-ticket holder has sued the franchise for reimbursement of his ticket prices and attorney fees, in response to Saints players kneeling before the anthem at home games and sitting during the anthem in a Week 3 road game.
According to ESPN, “The fan, Lee Dragna, claims in his lawsuit that he bought the tickets for the “entertainment and intellectual enjoyment” of himself and his family and that he never would have bought them if he had known that players would “use Saints football games as a platform for protests.” The suit claims Dragna has not attended a Saints home game since Week 2.”
While the Saints declined comment, a a source reported by ESPN said the franchise was “taking this very seriously, and this fan best have his facts in order.
“The Saints will come back at this fan who has brought forth incorrect information in his statement with everything to defend the team, organization and players.”
Speaking of the players, Saints running back Mark Ingram took to Twitter to address the lawsuit:
The one time we protested an anthem was an away game. After a team meeting we decided to kneel as one BEFORE the anthem was played and STAND united as one DURING the anthem! Good luck dude ✌🏾 https://t.co/28huwGP0Pu
— Mark Ingram II (@MarkIngram22) December 13, 2017
Ingram himself protested with ten of his teammates during Week 3 of the NFL season. The third week of the NFL season was also the same weekend that saw over 300 players protest in response to President Trump’s criticism of the anthem protests at a rally in Alabama.
After Week 3, the players decided to kneel before the playing of the national anthem. Though, that plan still met with fan disapproval. Most notably in mid-October, when Saints players knelt during a moment of silence for a slain New Orleans police officer.
Of the specific claims in the lawsuit, ESPN reports:
The lawsuit, which was first reported by the New Orleans Advocate, also claimed that some Saints players refused to take the field until after the national anthem in a Week 2 home game against the New England Patriots and that many fans booed and cursed at them when they entered the field, though there has never been any report of players staying behind in the locker room to protest during the anthem.
The lawsuit said players who refused to stand for the anthem in Week 3 were ‘apparently … following the lead of Colin Kaepernick by disrespecting the flag, the Anthem, the USA and those who have served and are serving the USA in our military.’
The lawsuit also accuses Saints owner Tom Benson and coach Sean Payton of publicly condoning the practice.
If successful, lawsuits like the one brought by Mr. Dragna, could be duplicated.
NFL anthem protests continue, though not nearly in the numbers seen earlier in the season. Original anthem-protester Colin Kaepernick remains unemployed.