A Republican Louisiana lawmaker on Monday proposed cutting millions in state tax dollars and subsidies for the New Orleans Saints and the NFL after some of the team’s players refused to stand for the national anthem, according to The New Orleans Advocate.
State Rep. Kenny Havard’s comments put him on the side of President Donald Trump, who faced backlash from the league and from some of the country’s most prominent athletes over the weekend after saying that players who participate in this form of protest should be suspended or fired.
“Disrespecting our national anthem and flag in the name of social injustice is the highest form of hypocrisy,” Havard said, as quoted by the Advocate. “Our free society made possible by our fighting men and women has made available free education, free lunch, housing and free healthcare and is now be considered socially unjust. It’s time the taxpayers quit subsidizing protest on big boy playgrounds.”
The athletes behind the protests say they are taking a stand against racial inequality and police brutality.
The newspaper cited a 2015 Forbes report that found that Saints owner Tom Benson would receive some $392 million in state subsidies through the lease expiration date in 2025. Those funds were projected to come from a combination of rental payments, tax breaks and increased revenue from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where the Saints play.
Havard has proven himself happy to wade into controversies. During a debate last year over a bill raising the minimum age for dancers at Louisiana strip clubs, Havard suggested that the legislation also regulate their weight. He went so far as to propose an amendment that would require dancers to remain under 160 pounds, which he described as a “poke at over-regulating everything,” before withdrawing it amid criticism from his fellow lawmakers.