The Baltimore Ravens’ national anthem singer has resigned after three years with the team, the Baltimore Sun reported last night.
Joey Odoms, who took the job in 2014, announced his retirement in an Instagram post, saying, “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 here.”
He clarified his comments in a later post, saying “Fans who attack players for protesting, (a right in which I fought to defend) but are simply not interested in understanding why, is the reason I am resigning.”
Odoms’ resignation comes after a weekend of widespread protest in the NFL, with about a dozen Ravens players and ex-players taking a knee. The protests came after President Donald Trump criticized NFL players like former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee during the anthem to protest police officers shooting and killing minorities. In a speech in Alabama, Trump called any NFL player protesting a “son of a bitch” and called for their firing.
Today, Trump told reporters that the NFL is in a “really bad box” over the issue of players kneeling in protest during the anthem, adding that the NFL’s ratings were falling.
In his Instagram post, Odoms, also a combat veteran, said that his resignation is “not an emotional reaction to to recent events,” adding that it was instead “an ethical decision that part of me regrets but my core knows is the right choice.”
While serving in Afghanistan as a member of the Maryland Army National guard, Odoms met Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. He told Harbaugh that he wanted to be the Ravens’ next national anthem singer. In 2014, Odoms succeeded longtime Ravens anthem singer Mishael Miller, after earning the job over eight other finalists.
“We greatly appreciate the work Joey did for us and we thank him,” Kevin Byrne, Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations, told the Baltimore Sun.
Odoms concluded his Instagram post thanking the Ravens and the football community for the opportunity to sing the anthem and “for allowing me to live out a dream of sharing my gift with you.”