A retired Navy commander had rejected an honor to be given to him before an NFL game Sunday in New Orleans saying the award is “tainted” due to the “dishonorable actions” of the NFL and its players.
Retired Navy Commander John Wells was to receive the Peoples Health Champion award for exceptional achievements after age 65.
"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," wrote Wells, according to the release reported by the New Orleans Advocate.
"I am unable, in good conscience, to enter an NFL stadium while this discourtesy prevails. Since this award is tainted with the dishonorable actions of the NFL and its players, I cannot accept it.”
"I admire them for what they're doing," Wells said about the award in USA Today. "I admire the award. I'm just sorry that the circumstances are such that I could not ethically accept it."
Wells said he won't walk into an NFL stadium while players continue their national anthem protests.
"They can do it," Wells said. "They have that right, no question. I've got the right to turn it off. I got the right to not go into an NFL stadium and I have the right to decline the award."
According to USA Today, Wells said players may have a legitimate cause but were going about it the wrong way.
"I would be more than happy to go in and sit down with the players and explain my point of view," Wells said. "There are some things that we need to look at. Dishonoring the flag and the anthem is not the way to do it."
The Medicare Advantage company that chooses the award winners said they would honor Commander Wells’ request to not accept the award in a statement.
The Medicare Advantage company said they wouldn’t have a replacement to be recognized at the November 5 game.