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The public, fans and all-American patriots continuously oppose the national anthem protests in the dawn of NFL games and that tension is felt wide, among the audience but between the athletes too.
Ray Lewis, the retired Baltimore Ravens star, is just one example of it.
Lewis had a successful career, he earned Super Bowl MVP, made the Pro Bowl in 13 of 17 seasons and was honored with a statue placed outside the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium.
Lewis decided to protest the national anthem on Saturday and knelt during its singing at the game between Baltimore and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now he is facing a petition for removal of his statue which is signed by 50,000 people.
The number of signatures increased by Friday counting over 69,000 signatures.
The fans’ passion is taken seriously by the officials, but that’s not the case with NFL’s players.
“There is additional security at the statue plaza at this time,” stated Rachelina Bonacci, the Maryland Stadium Authority’s spokeswoman.
“Certainly, observers can notice the presence of uniformed security officers at M&T Bank Stadium, which includes the statue plaza,” she stated. “The additional officers and other security enhancements have been in place since Sunday afternoon.”
This is written in the petition, “I want the Ray Lewis statue at Ravens Stadium removed because of his refusal to stand during the national anthem. That song honors our country and our veterans who fought for it. To kneel during it is disrespectful, regardless of what you are protesting. I will not stand for that kind of disrespect towards our country, especially from a legend such as Ray Lewis. You stand for the National Anthem as a salute to those who can’t stand because they fought for this land.”
Eric Moniodis, the man who started the petition wrote an emotional letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, and attached the letter to the petition.
“I sit here heartbroken, searching for answers, and questioning why it has come to this. I am disappointed, to say the least. The team that I have loved since 1996, and the Raven I came to respect more than any other, has defiled my National Anthem, my country, and all of its (sic) troops,” Moniodis wrote in the letter.
He stated that Lewis at the time was a legend, but after this incident, he is not seen as one.
“A legend is a hero both on and off the field, and by disgracing this great country by kneeling during the national anthem, on foreign soil no less, he has lost the respect of myself and many of my peers who used to see him in a different light,” Moniodis wrote.
He named disrespect and kneeling on the national anthem “blatant disrespect to our country’s salute to our troops, veterans and first responders.”
On a radio show, Lewis talked about the petition.
“It only bothers me if I blatantly did something to gain awareness for myself. What I did — is for our country. That’s why I challenge people,” he stated.
He also stated that it’s not a coincidence he knelt on both knees, and not only one.
“You can protest, I’m gonna pray,” he stated.
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