Is this where the NFL protests will lead? Lawmakers are considering pulling funding of the team that they give millions to via tax breaks, incentives and public funding. Did you know that you pay for this even if you don’t care a thing about football? Think of the money spent on new stadiums for cities all across America! This involves big tax dollar donations…involuntary donations!
“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.” – Rep. Kenny Havard
Offended by New Orleans Saints players who protested by sitting during the national anthem Sunday (Sept. 24), state House Rep. Kenny Havard, R-Jackson, called for Louisiana’s government to pull state funding, tax breaks and other support from the professional football franchise.
“Disrespecting our national anthem and flag in the name of social injustice is the highest form of hypocrisy,” Havard said in a written statement Monday.
State Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, has also requested the Saints’ state benefits be reviewed by the Legislature’s Senate and House budget committees as a result of the players’ protest. Hodges is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees state finances.
PUBLIC FUNDING, TAX BREAKS AND INCENTIVES
About $165 million of the Saints’ $1.5 billion value can be attributed to public funding, tax breaks and incentives given to Saints owner Tom Benson each year, according to an analysis The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com conducted in 2016. Benson, Louisiana’s richest resident, owes a good portion of his estimated $2.2 billion fortune to his ownership of two professional sports franchises, the Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans, which are both supported with taxpayer money.
“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,” Havard said.
The Saints organization did not want to comment on Havard’s statements when contacted by a reporter Monday afternoon.
10 SAINTS PLAYERS PROTESTED…
The 10 Saints who protested were among 150 professional football players around the National Football League who refused to stand for the national anthem Sunday. Four other players also stood in solidarity near the 10 Saints players who sat out the national anthem, though they didn’t sit down themselves.
These types of demonstrations initially started with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem in order to draw attention to brutality against black people and other minorities.
Kaepernick got some support from players last year, though nothing like the demonstrations seen Sunday. Football player protests intensified this past weekend because of comments President Donald Trump made at a campaign rally in Alabama on Friday night.
Trump called on NFL team owners to fire players who refused to stand during the national anthem. The president referred to any player who protests as a “son of a b—-” on national television.
“Obviously, everybody knows about the president’s comments and I’m just trying to support, really, the movement that (Kaepernick) started,” Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro said after Sunday’s game. “I’ve always felt like we needed to do something and I didn’t want to disrespect anyone.”
Right before the Saints game, the team released a statement of behalf of Benson saying players should be allowed to “express their feelings,” though Benson feels strongly about honoring the flag flown during the national anthem. Saints coach Sean Payton said he was proud of all of his players who protested.
Read more: NOLA