Negative reaction to protests leads Ravens' anthem singer to resign

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens national anthem singer Joey Odoms resigned Tuesday at a time when protests during the song have generated strong emotions across the country.

"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," Odoms wrote on Facebook. "Someone once told me to always 'go where you're welcomed.'"

Odoms, who is African-American, is a member of the Maryland National Guard. When he was a soldier in Afghanistan, Odoms met John Harbaugh and informed the Ravens coach that he wanted to be the team's next national anthem singer.

Odoms' decision comes two days after 13 Ravens players took a knee during the national anthem for the first time. This generated intense and mixed responses from the team's fan base. Some have threatened to sell their tickets and burn Ravens jerseys. Others have supported the players' right to protest.

A Ravens spokesman confirmed that Odoms had informed the team he was stepping down after being the primary national anthem singer at M&T Bank Stadium for the past three seasons.

"We greatly appreciate the work Joey did for us, and we thank him," the team said in a statement.

The Ravens need to find a new singer for Sunday, when the team plays host to the AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

"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 posted on Facebook. "Thank you so much for the opportunity to grow as a performer and for allowing me to live out a dream of sharing my gift with you."