Ravens national anthem singer Joey Odoms has resigned from the position he’s held since the start of the 2014 season.
The decision comes two days after many players around the NFL — including roughly a dozen members of the Ravens — took a knee during the national anthem in response to President Donald Trump’s strong words over the weekend calling for owners to fire any players who wouldn’t stand. Among the kneeling Baltimore players were Terrell Suggs, Mike Wallace, Lardarius Webb, C.J. Mosley, and Tony Jefferson as well as former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
The protests have drawn strong reactions from fans threatening to boycott while others have expressed their support for the stance against racial inequality. Odoms, a member of the Maryland Army National Guard and former combat veteran, posted the following message on his Facebook and Instagram accounts Tuesday evening:
“The people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at the Ravens organization have been nothing but nice to me, however 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. Someone once told me to always ‘go where you’re welcomed.’ 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.”
Odoms is a former Baltimore City 911 operator who is also known for his work as a songwriter, actor, and photographer. He first expressed interest in singing the national anthem when he met head coach John Harbaugh in Afghanistan in 2014 and won a contest several months later to become the team’s regular anthem singer at M&T Bank Stadium.
After being blown out in a 44-7 loss to Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium in London, the Ravens return home to host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.