A Morgan City man is suing the New Orleans Saints for a refund on his season tickets because some players have disrespected the national anthem before games this season.
Lee Dragna filed a lawsuit Monday in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna seeking a refund for the tickets as well as attorney’s fees, claiming the protest by some players against police brutality and racial injustice has prevented him and his family from enjoying the games.
Dragna said he hasn’t attended a game since the first home game of the 2017 season against the New England Patriots, on Sept. 17, when he said some of the players did not come out for the singing of the national anthem.
When they did come out, the suit says, “They passed directly in front of where the petitioner and his guests were seated. Many of the fans in that area booed and cursed at the Saints players.”
“Apparently, these players were following the lead of (former San Francisco 49ers quarterback) Colin Kaepernick by disrespecting the flag, the anthem, the USA and those who have served and are serving the USA in our military,” the suit says.
Dragna, a businessman in Morgan City, said Tuesday that the rowdy, angry reaction of the people around his seats has made the tickets unusable by him and his family, as well as customers he would otherwise give the tickets to.
He said the behavior of some fans upset by the protests — cursing, spilling beer — is “borderline dangerous,” though he said he thinks the responsibility for that behavior ultimately rests not with the fans but with owner Tom Benson.
“The Saints created that behavior by condoning it,” he said.
“It’s my thought pattern that (players) should not be allowed (to protest),” he said. “If you sell tickets to a gaming event for entertainment, you should not be allowed to turn it political.”
Kaepernick and a teammate, Baton Rouge native Eric Reid, began kneeling during the anthem in 2016 to protest the shooting of unarmed African-Americans by police.
Kaepernick sat for the anthem during the 49ers’ first preseason game that year, though he and Reid knelt from the second game forward after talking with a former NFL player who was a Green Beret in the U.S. Army and deciding that kneeling would be more respectful.
A few weeks later, news of the protest broke, stirring nationwide controversy. This year, President Donald Trump said on Twitter that team owners should fire players who kneel during the anthem.
Trump’s tweet triggered a surge in player protests and shows of solidarity around the league, and 10 Saints players sat during the anthem before a game against the Carolina Panthers. The team has since chosen to kneel in unity before the anthem and then stand for it.
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