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Saints season ticket holder sues the team because of national anthem protests

Fans wear Halloween costumes during an NFL football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Chic
Members of the New Orleans Saints and their fans stand for the national anthem before a game against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 29 in New Orleans.
(Bill Feig / Associated Press)

A New Orleans Saints season ticket holder is suing the team, alleging that player protests before the games have ruined the experience for him and other fans.

Businessman Lee Dragna seeks a refund for the tickets, as well as attorney’s fees, from the Saints.

His lawsuit, filed Monday in the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna, La., states: “If petitioner had known that Saints football players would use Saints football games as a platform for protests he would not have purchased the Saints season tickets.”

Dragna told the New Orleans Advocate on Tuesday that he was turned down by the Saints when he initially asked to be refunded for the tickets, which he said cost around $8,000.

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“They don’t even want to talk about this, but I don’t care,” Dragna said. “One way or another they’ll pay.”

Dragna has attended only one game this season, the Saints’ home opener against the New England Patriots on Sept. 17. According to the lawsuit, some New Orleans players didn’t take the field until after the national anthem.

“Apparently, these players were following the lead of [former San Francisco 49ers quarterback] Colin Kaepernick by disrespecting the flag, the anthem, the USA and those who have served and are serving the USA in our military,” the lawsuit states.

When those players emerged, the lawsuit states, “they passed directly in front of where the petitioner and his guests were seated. Many of the fans in that area booed and cursed at the Saints players.”

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Dragna told the Advocate that the atmosphere became “borderline dangerous,” making his tickets unusable.

“The Saints created that behavior by condoning it,” he said.

He added: “It’s my thought pattern that [players] should not be allowed [to protest],” he said. “If you sell tickets to a gaming event for entertainment, you should not be allowed to turn it political.”

According to ESPN, there has been no report of Saints players remaining in the locker room as a protest during the anthem. New Orleans running back Mark Ingram pointed out on Twitter that the Saints have protested only during the anthem, and that was before an away game.

Ingram added in an apparent reference to Dragna and his lawsuit, “Good luck, dude.”

A Saints spokesperson told the Advocate on Tuesday that the team had forwarded the lawsuit to its legal department and would have no comment on the matter.

charles.schilken@latimes.com

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Twitter: @chewkiii


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