Photo credit: Jeffrey Phelps/AP

The New Orleans Saints wanted to honor Navy veteran John Wells at this weekend’s game by giving him an award for his life accomplishments. Wells, who is the executive director of the Military Veterans Advocacy group, declined the award.

Wells announced his refusal of the award in a letter, in which he upbraided the Saints and the NFL for allowing players to kneel during the national anthem. From the New Orleans Advocate:

“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. “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.”

Wells went on to call the protests a “slap in the face” to all veterans and say that he “had hoped and prayed that the NFL would outlaw these disgraceful protests.”

As always, it’s good to pause here and remember that the NFL player protests have never had a single thing to do with the military.

The Saints responded to Wells in a statement released last night. It reads in part:

Throughout Mr. Wells’ media appearances today, he has stated he no longer supports NFL football. That is unfortunate and disappointing considering the New Orleans Saints’ unwavering 50-plus year commitment to honor, support and recognize our servicemen and women and veterans. We will not allow Mr. Wells’ decision and subsequent media appearances to distract our players and organization from continuing to honor and support our military and veterans. We, as an organization, have decided to move on from this sad and divisive discourse and focus our attention on supporting our military and veterans. In lieu of honoring Mr. Wells, we will use the time allotted for the Peoples Health Champion Award to highlight non-political military advocacy programs and encourage our fans and community to join us in contributing to these groups who directly support our military and veterans.

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I look forward to Wells’s upcoming appearance on Sean Hannity’s show.

[New Orleans Advocate]