Baltimore Ravens’ national anthem singer Joey Odoms, an African American member of the Maryland National Guard, resigned on Tuesday as the controversy over protests during the song has further contributed to the country’s racial and political divide.
When Odoms was a soldier in Afghanistan, he met Ravens coach John Harbaugh and asked if he could audition to become the team’s next national anthem singer, fulfilling a longtime dream. He’s been with the team since 2014 but feels now that the volatile reaction of Ravens fans to the protests, and his personal support of the protesting players, leaves him in a spot he never signed up for.
“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.’”
Speaking later to WJZ’s Vic Carter, Odoms said that as a member of the military, he is not offended by the players’ protests. “I support the protest personally — I fought for that right, but I don’t like people using people like me to attack those people who are exercising their right.”
He went on to say “If I express how I feel, a segment of the fanbase would attack me.”
On Facebook, Odoms concluded: “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. 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.”
Read his full statement below:
Odoms’ decision comes two days after 13 Ravens players took a knee during the national anthem for the first time. Some in the fan base have threatened to sell their tickets and burn Ravens jerseys over the gesture, while 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.
Below, Joey Odoms in action:
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(Photo Credit: Facebook)