Joey Odoms, a veteran of the Maryland National Guard who has served in Afghanistan, has sung the National Anthem before Ravens games since 2014. However, in light of recent protests that include NFL players kneeling during the anthem, Odoms has decided to resign his post. On Tuesday, Odoms informed the Baltimore Ravens that he would no longer sing the national anthem for the team. In a statement he published through Instagram, Odoms explained his reasons for giving up his spot. In his explanation, Odoms cited the “tone/actions of a large number of NFL fans in the midst of our country’s cultural crisis” as the main factor in his decision to resign. Interestingly in his statement, Odoms references the NFL fans and not the players who are protesting.
The widespread protests throughout the NFL come in wake of comments made by President Trump, about the issue of players not standing for the anthem. Former 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick was the first NFL player to not stand for the anthem. His decision not to stand was made with the issues of race relations and police brutality in mind. Throughout the 2016 season, the issue became a hot topic in both the sports world and in the news and commentary realm. By the start of the 2017 season, the protests seemed to have died down. However, President Trump’s comments sparked them again.
Joey Odoms was first introduced to Ravens head coach John Harbaugh when Harbaugh was on a military visit. Upon meeting the coach, Odoms asked who he should contact to sing the national anthem. Odoms ended up in a pool of eight finalists in 2014 to sing the anthem. He was selected out of those eight and had sung the anthem since. The Baltimore Ravens will now have to search for just their third national anthem singer in team history.