In the latest sign that the backlash to NFL players kneeling in protest during the National Anthem has been more damaging than players, owners and the league officials had expected, Baltimore Ravens National Anthem singer, and combat veteran, Joey Odoms has announced that he’s resigning just days after about a dozen Ravens players took a knee before a game against the Jaguars in London, the Baltimore Sun reports.
“We greatly appreciate the work Joey did for us and we thank him,” said Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne.
President Donald Trump has kept up his calls for the league to fire players who “disrespect our heritage” by kneeling during the National Anthem. Meanwhile, fans have burned jerseys, canceled TV packages, decided to cancel their season tickets and – most importantly – tuned out of NFL games as the athletes’ decision to protest has provoked lasting outrage.
Ravens players who kneeled included several accomplished veterans Terrell Suggs, Tony Jefferson and Mike Wallace and ex-Raven Ray Lewis.
In an Instagram post, Odoms wrote that the “tone/actions of a large number of NFL fans in the midst of our country’s cultural crisis, have convinced me that I do not belong” at M&T Bank Stadium.
"The people I've had the pleasure of meeting at the Ravens organization have been nothing but nice to me, however the tone/actions of a large number of NFL fans in the midst of our country's cultural crisis, have convinced me that I do not belong there."
“Someone once told me to always ‘go where you’re welcomed.’ This is not an emotional reaction to recent events, rather an ethical decision that part of me regrets but my core knows is the right choice.”
Odoms ended the post by thanking fans “for the opportunity to grow as a performer and for allowing me to live out a dream of sharing my gift with you.”
In a second post, Odoms clarified that he was disgusted with fans’ treatment of protesting players, criticizing the fans for not trying to understand the players’ motives.
“Fans who attack players for protesting, (a right in which I fought to defend) but are simply not interested in understanding why, is the reason I am resigning.”
Odoms, a member of the Maryland Army National guard, succeeded longtime Ravens’ anthem Mishael Miller, who relocated to Alabama after the 2013 season. Odoms, a songwriter and former 911 operator who grew up in the
Baltimore neighborhood Reservoir Hill, beat out eight other finalists for the job of singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Ravens home games.
Notably, Odoms was not among the two National Anthem singers who kneeled during their performances over the weekend. According to the Sun, Odom initially expressed interest in the job directly to Ravens coach John Harbaugh after the two met when Harbaugh was visiting a base in Afghanistan at which Odoms was stationed back in February 2013.