Vaccaro: 'We get booed before the anthem'

Saints players react to veteran's refusal to accept award

The New Orleans Saints have decided to move on from what they called the "sad and divisive discourse" brought by those the organization believes are unfairly politicizing the NFL player protests.

A military veterans advocate has declined to be honored at the Saints-Bucs game on Sunday, calling the protests during the National Anthem disrespectful to the military and the flag.

Saints Safety Kenny Vaccaro responded on Twitter stating,  "Our crowd boos us before the anthem, therefore it's not about the flag, it's about the fact that we are bringing awareness to a cause that makes people uncomfortable."

WWL-TV caught up with Vaccaro after Friday's practice.

"I think it was Drew (Brees) who came out and said we would kneel just before the anthem just to spread awareness for the cause for social inequality and for some reason during the game we get booed before the anthem, so, I didn't understand that because we all stand together when they play the anthem," Vaccaro said.

Vaccaro added, he is not against the military.

"One of my best friends now did three tours in Iraq, he has PTSD, so I will support the military 100 percent," Vaccaro said.

Peoples Health Champion award winner, retired Navy Commander John Wells remains undaunted in his decision not to enter an NFL stadium to receive the honor.

"There are some things that we need to look at," Wells said. "Dishonoring the flag and the anthem is not the way to do it."

Thursday, the organization released a statement saying Saints players have always stood for the National Anthem with the exception of one game, game 3 of this season against the Carolinia Panthers when a few players did sit.

We asked Head Coach Sean Payton whether he thought his players were being unfairly portrayed by some.

"People that know our players and the fans, we've got really good guys," Payton said. "I like the group of guys we have and I think that, you know they are guys that work hard, their tough, resilient and that's why they're here."

Payton added, he's not worried about all the other stuff surrounding the NFL protests.

Saints Defensive End Cam Jordan also responded with a series of Tweets stating, "I'm not mad, only motivated to do more in our community than before...one day I will have the desired impact."

According to the Saints, "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." 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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