Meet John Wells, he is a retired Navy commander and executive director of the national Military Veterans Advocacy organization, in Slidell, Louisiana. Mr. Wells was chosen by the Saints to be the recipient of the People’s Health Champion award. A recognition offered to a member of the community who exemplifies “the exceptional achievements of Louisiana residents age 65 and older.”
Though flattered by being chosen for the award, Wells could not “in good conscience” accept the award. Given the “slap in the face” he feels NFL players have shown veterans by way of their 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,” Wells said in a press release. “Since this award is tainted with the dishonorable actions of the NFL and its players, I cannot accept it.”
The Saints responded to Wells in a lengthy statement on Thursday afternoon:
Respectfully and honorably, we chose Mr. Wells for the Peoples Health Champion Award purposefully for this game to bring to light the exact issues that he and his organization represent — the health and well-being of our military, veterans and their families. Unfortunately, he has chosen very publicly not to accept this honor and refused the opportunity to promote the very cause for which he was being honored and distract from awareness we hoped to build throughout our community. We respect his decision, he has that right, and we thank him for his service to our country and his past efforts on behalf of the military and veterans.