The national anthem singer for the Baltimore Ravens resigned on Tuesday evening, but not because players took a knee when “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed on Sunday.
Joe Odoms, a combat veteran who won a competition in 2014 to become the national anthem singer for the Ravens, wrote on Instagram that he is resigning because the team’s fans have been criticizing players for protesting.
“Fans who attack players for protesting, a right I fought to defend, but are simply not interested in understanding why, is the reason I am resigning,” Odoms wrote in an Instagram post on Tuesday.
Odoms has performed the anthem before Ravens home games at the M&T Bank Stadium since 2013. The team confirmed his resignation shortly after he made the public post on Instagram.
“We greatly appreciate the work Joey did for us and we thank him,” Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne told the Baltimore Sun.
Odoms wrote that he felt like he did not belong to the Ravens organization, specifically because of the tone and actions of “a large number of NFL fans.”
“Someone once told me to always ‘Go where you’re welcome,'” Odoms wrote on Instagram. “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 thing.”
Fans nationwide have been incensed by players who kneel during the national anthem, saying that it is a display of disrespect for the country, the flag, and the men and women who serve to protect American freedoms. Many have burned treasured jerseys and memorabilia and posted videos online to show their discontent.
On Sunday, a group of about a dozen Ravens players knelt during the national anthem before they faced the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to the Baltimore Sun. More than 200 players from different NFL teams took a knee that day in response to remarks by President Donald Trump, who suggested that teams should fire players who disrespect the national anthem.
“Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total),” Trump wrote on Twitter. “These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!”
The first player to kneel during the national anthem was Colin Kaepernick, who said he did so to protest police brutality and social injustice. Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers in 2017, but no team has signed him since.
Odoms is a member of the Maryland Army National Guard. He replaced Ravens anthem singer Mishael Miller after Miller moved to Alabama after the 2013 season.
Odoms thanked the Ravens organization and fans for his time with the team.
“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,” he wrote on Instagram.
Odoms was chosen from nine finalists to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” He grew up in Reservoir Hill and worked as a 911 operator.
In February 2013, Odoms met Ravens coach John Harbaugh at a military base in Afghanistan. Odoms was stationed at the base at the time and Harbaugh was visiting. Odoms pitched the idea of singing the anthem during the meeting.
He later recorded an audition video in military uniform at the base in Afghanistan.