Kneeling controversy continues to create divide among Who Dats

Kneeling controversy continues to create divide among Who Dats

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Peter Legemaate immigrated to the U.S. from Holland nearly three decades ago and became a New Orleans Saints fan and season ticket holder in the early 2000s. But this year, he refuses to go to the games.

"I don't agree with kneeling down. I sold my season tickets. We're not doing this anymore," Legemaate said.

This week, the controversy over taking a knee prior to or during the national anthem was kicked back up again. Retired Navy Commander John Wells turned down the People Health Champion Award to be presented to him during this Sunday's Saints game in the Superdome. Wells, a military advocate, believed it would be hypocritical of him to accept it.

"These folks have a right to protest, they certainly do," said Wells. "I felt that we've gone past the aspect of trying to bring up a just cause to the point of being actual disrespect and a slap in the face to the veterans."

On Friday, Saints head coach Sean Payton stood by his players and the protest over social injustice and police brutality.

"I like the group of guys that we have and I think that they are guys that work hard. They are tough and resilient and that's why they are here," Payton said when asked about the controversy.

During week three after President Donald Trump's comments about the issue, several Saints players sat during the anthem. Since then, however, the entire team has stood for the anthem and have instead taken a knee prior to the song's performance.

On Thursday, Saints safety Kenny Vacarro took to Twitter saying, "Our crowd boos us before the anthem therefore it's not about the flag, it's about the fact we are bringing awareness to a cause...we already said what we were gonna do so get the picture or don't come."

But even with the compromise, some in the Who Dat Nation still do not approve.

"I want to see football. I don't want to hear the problems. I want to escape the problems," fan Joe Handlen said.

"People want to have their Sunday off, watch old school football. They don't want to hear about politics," fan Jeremy Schreiber said.

"This is not the place for it. I don't want to see it. You can voice your opinion when you're off the field when you're not representing the NFL," said fan Philip Crovatto.

However, there are fans who don't approve of the protest but said they will always support the Saints.

"I just don't like the situation we're put in, that's all. But I'm still a Saints fan and I love them," fan Kathleen Puisseger said.

The protest could be having an effect on the NFL's TV ratings. This season's ratings are down five percent from last year, according to Sportingnews.com.

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