Fan sues Saints, wants refund over protests during national anthem

A season-ticket holder has sued the New Orleans Saints, requesting a refund of his ticket costs and attorneys' fees because of players who kneel before the national anthem at home games and sat during the anthem before a Week 3 road game.

The fan, Lee Dragna, says in his lawsuit that he bought the tickets for the "entertainment and intellectual enjoyment" of himself and his family and that he never would have bought them if he had known that players would "use Saints football games as a platform for protests." The suit says Dragna has not attended a Saints home game since Week 2.

The Saints declined to comment, saying they had turned the matter over to their legal department. However, a 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.

Saints running back Mark Ingram took to Twitter to respond to the fan's lawsuit.

Ingram was one of 10 Saints players who sat on the bench during the national anthem at Carolina in Week 3, in response to President Donald Trump's derogatory comments about the player protests around the league.

After that week, Saints players decided to kneel before the anthem in a show of unity, then to stand together during the anthem. That's what they have done before every game since Week 4; no Saints player has ever kneeled during the anthem.

Many fans booed during the first home game when Saints players kneeled before the anthem. There were some audible boos at the next home game as well. But there has been no noticeable mass reaction from fans since then.

The lawsuit, which was first reported by the New Orleans Advocate, claimed that some Saints players refused to take the field until after the national anthem before the Week 2 home game against the New England Patriots and that many fans booed and cursed at them when they entered the field, though there has never been a report of Saints players staying in the locker room to protest during the anthem.

The NFL protests, intended to bring attention to social inequality and police brutality, began with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 preseason.

The lawsuit said players who refused to stand for the anthem in Week 3 were "apparently ... following the lead of Colin Kaepernick by disrespecting the flag, the Anthem, the USA and those who have served and are serving the USA in our military."

The lawsuit also accuses Saints owner Tom Benson and coach Sean Payton of publicly condoning the practice.