A season-ticket holder has just filed a lawsuit against the New Orleans Saints demanding the organization refunds his money because some players have disrespected the national anthem before games this season. The fan, Lee Dragna, filed the lawsuit on Monday against the NFL team for $8,000 plus lawyer’s fees. In the lawsuit, he claims, the protest by some players against police brutality and racial injustice has prevented him and his family from enjoying the games.
He bought the tickets for the “entertainment and intellectual enjoyment”, and said he would have never made the purchase had he known NFL players would “use Saints football games as a platform for protests.” Further, the suit alleges Dragna hasn’t attended a game since players protested the first home game, on September 17.
The suit said,
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.
On Tuesday, Dragna told The New Orleans Advocate,
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.”
According to ESPN, the Saints declined to comment, saying they had escalated the situation to the legal department. However, an anonymous source said the organization is “taking this very seriously, and this fan best have his facts in order.”
“The Saints will come back at this fan who has brought forth incorrect information in his statement with everything to defend the team, organization and players,” the source said.
Two days ago, Saint’s running back Mark Ingram II lashed out at Dragna on social media.. ESPN notes that Ingram was one of 10 Saint players who sat on the bench during the national anthem in week 3, in response to President Trump’s comments about NFL players (see: Trump Goes Nuclear: Trump Sports Feud Escalates: Demands NFL Chief “Tells Them To Stand”).
The one time we protested an anthem was an away game. After a team meeting we decided to kneel as one BEFORE the anthem was played and STAND united as one DURING the anthem! Good luck dude ????? https://t.co/28huwGP0Pu— Mark Ingram II (@MarkIngram22) December 13, 2017
According to Gabe Feldman, director of Tulane University’s Sports Law Program,
“Fans do not have legal standing or a cause of action simply because they are unhappy with how a team performs or acts on the field. If fans were allowed to sue for breach of contract every time they were disappointed with the performance or conduct of a player, there would be an unending string of lawsuits across the country.”
He further explained: “An NFL ticket allows you to enter a stadium to watch a football game, but it does not guarantee that the players will act in ways that do not upset you — either athletically or politically.”
And as the story of Dragna’s lawsuit circulates across millions of American households, many of whom have stepped away from NFL stadiums and television sets on Sundays (see: NFL Ratings Slump Worsens As ESPN Forced To Slash $80 Million In Salary Costs.), one wonders: did Dragna start the (inevitable) blowback of angry NFL fans asking teams and Goodell for their money back?