Colts fans offended by kneeling players would get refund under proposed legislation

By  | 

In Week 5, the Colts hosted the 49ers and Vice President Mike Pence, the former Indiana governor, made a brief appearance before orchestrating what appeared to be a preplanned walk-out.

Pence left after just one series -- and at great taxpayer expense -- because he said he was offended that some of the 49ers players knelt during the anthem.

And if legislation from Indiana State Representative Milo Smith passes, the Colts would be required to offer those fans who feel disrespected refunds if Colts players kneel during the national anthem of home games, according to the Indianapolis Star.

"To me when they take a knee during the national anthem, it's not respecting the national anthem or our country," Smith said. "Our government isn't perfect, but it's still the best country in the world and I think we need to be respectful of it."

Smith said he attended a Browns-Colts game in Week 3 and a group of Colts players decided to take a knee along with some 200 other players around the league. Smith says he was offended but didn't leave the game.

"I'm pretty patriotic, and it didn't sit right with me," he explained.
Worth nothing: The reason 200-plus players chose that week to protest was because of what President Donald Trump told supporters at an Alabama rally just days before.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now," the president said to a cheering crowd. "Out. He's fired. He's fired!"
Prior to those words, protests around the league were down.

It was Trump's remarks, which were widely condemned by the league and its owners, some of whom gave $1 million to Trump's inauguration fund, that gave the protest new life.

Whether Smith's bill becomes a law remains to be seen, but the American Civil Liberties Union Indiana told the Star that the proposal could be a constitutional violation.

"In effect by passing the law, government would be weighing in ... and fining political speech by the Indianapolis Colts," ALCU executive director Jane Henegar said. "It seems like the worst thing that could happen is government weighing in and trying to control in any direction the political speech of private actors."

Back in October, here's how Pence explained his decision to leave Lucas Oil Stadium early in the first quarter:

"I left today's Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem. At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience, now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don't think it's too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem. I stand with President Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem."

After the game, 49ers safety Eric Reid, whose protests date back to the 2016 season, called out Pence for staging a walk-out.

"First of all, does anybody know the last time he went to a football game? With that being said, he tweeted out a three-year-old photo from the Colts game," Reid told reporters, referring to what appears to be Pence reusing a photo that was originally taken during the 2014 season.

"With the information I have, the last time he went to a Colts game was three years ago, so this looks like a PR stunt to me," Reid continued. "He knew our team has had the most players protest. He knew we were probably going to do it again. And so this is what systemic oppression looks like -- a man with power comes to the game, tweets a couple things out and leaves the game with an attempt to thwart our efforts. Again, based on the information I have, that's the assumption that I made."