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URL of the original posting site: https://www.westernjournalism.com/fans-turn-nfl-legend-kneels-national-anthem/?

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As the voices of football fans and patriotic Americans continue to swell in opposition to protests taking place before NFL games, even athletes who endeared themselves to the fans are feeling the sting. Retired Baltimore Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis is an example.

Lewis made the Pro Bowl in 13 of his 17 seasons, was named Super Bowl MVP, and had a statue erected in his honor outside the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium.

Then came Sunday, when Lewis dropped to his knees during the singing of the national anthem at Baltimore’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London — and now a petition calling for the removal of his statue has collected over 50,000 signatures.

By Friday, a change.org petition for the removal of the statue had almost 69,000 signatures.

Officials are not taking the fans’ passion as lightly as are the NFL’s players.

“There is additional security at the statue plaza at this time,” said Rachelina Bonacci, a spokesperson for the Maryland Stadium Authority.

“Certainly observers can notice the presence of uniformed security officers at M&T Bank Stadium, which includes the statue plaza,” she said. “The additional officers and other security enhancements have been in place since Sunday afternoon.”

The petition reads, “I want the Ray Lewis statue at Ravens Stadium removed because of his refusal to stand during the national anthem. That song honors our country and our veterans who fought for it. To kneel during it is disrespectful, regardless of what you are protesting. I will not stand for that kind of disrespect towards our country, especially from a legend such as Ray Lewis. You stand for the National Anthem as a salute to those who can’t stand because they fought for this land.”

The petition was accompanied by a soul-searching letter from Eric Moniodis, who started the petition, to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.

“I sit here heartbroken, searching for answers, and questioning why it has come to this. I am disappointed, to say the least. The team that I have loved since 1996, and the Raven I came to respect more than any other, has defiled my National Anthem, my country, and all of it’s (sic) troops,” he wrote.

Moniodis said Lewis was once a legend, but is so no longer.

“A legend is a hero both on and off the field, and by disgracing this great country by kneeling during the national anthem, on foreign soil no less, he has lost the respect of myself and many of my peers who used to see him in a different light,” he wrote.

Moniodis called refusing to stand for the anthem “blatant disrespect to our country’s solute to our troops, veterans and first responders.”

Lewis spoke about the petition during a local sports radio show.

“It only bothers me if I blatantly did something to gain awareness for myself. What I did — is for our country. That’s why I challenge people,” he said.

Lewis said there was significance in the fact the he knelt on both knees, and not only one. “You can protest, I’m gonna pray,” he said.

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