Retired Navy Commander John Wells Declines Saints Invitation Over National Anthem Protests-Truth!

Retired Navy Commander John Wells Declines Saints Award Over National Anthem Protests-Truth!

Summary of eRumor:

Retired Navy Commander John Wells declined an award from the New Orleans Saints for his work to raise awareness about veterans’ healthcare issues because of NFL national anthem protests.

The Truth:

Accurate reports that Ret. Navy Cmdr. John Wells declined an award from the New Orleans Saints first emerged in the fall of 2017. The story reemerged in January 2018 as the Saints advanced in the NFL playoffs.
John Wells is a disabled veteran who served in the Navy from 1972-1994. He also leads a Louisiana-based group called Military Veterans Advocacy that advocates of current and former service members across the county.  The New Orleans Saints attempted to recognize Wells with its “Peoples Health Champion Award” for his work with the organization in November 2017 — but Wells publicly rejected the offer.
In an interview with the Times-Picayune, said that he declined the recognition because of the NFL national anthem protests:

“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. Since this award is tainted with the dishonorable actions of the NFL and its players, I cannot accept it. To do so would be hypocritical.”

The New Orleans Saints responded with an official statement that called John Wells’ decision “unfortunate,” but the organization said it respected his decision:

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….”

The Saints went on to state that players have stood for the national anthem in every game dating back to 1967, except for one. In week 3 of the 2017 NFL season, a group of Saints players sat during the national anthem before a game in Charlotte, NorthCarolina. The team has faced backlash over the player protests, including from one fan who sued, demanding a refund.
So, it’s true that John Wells declined an award from the Saints over the team’s week 3 national anthem protests.