Anthem protests inspire TN legislation; Titans boycott by one senator

Citing cases of “overt disrespect to our national anthem and flag,” State Rep. Judd Matheny has filed legislation that would block state government from providing funding or economic incentives to professional sport teams and privately-owned amateur teams. Matheny, R-Tullahoma, is currently a candidate for the 6th Congressional District seat.

State Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, meanwhile, says he’s boycotting Tennessee Titans games and will donate funds equal to the cost of five tickets to charities.

News releases from both legislators are below.

New release from Rep. Judd Matheny

State Representative Judd Matheny today has ordered legislation to be drafted and introduced to stop any and all future economic incentives to professional and amateur privately owned sports teams in Tennessee.  Matheny’s legislation will seek to stop any economic incentives after the effective date, which will be immediately upon passage.

This legislation will include any incentives to include but not be limited to bonds, tax incremental financing, tax deferrals, direct payments or any unreimbursed state services to facilitate a sporting event or public function.  All current contracts will be honored until their expiration but no amendments may be added or options on any existing contracts exercised.   State Senator Janice Bowling from Tullahoma is the Senate Sponsor.

Matheny said that as long as professional and minor league sports teams allow their players to show overt disrespect to our national anthem and flag during an official event then there will be no consideration of state funding.  This includes direct and indirect monies for stadiums, maintenance, or any other cost associated with a sports team’s functions both in and out of their official seasons.

Teams may obviously still use private monies to buy land, advertise and hold sporting functions or special events at their privately owned venues but all traffic control, security costs and related expenses necessary to insure safety for patrons provided by the State must also be fully reimbursed to the State of Tennessee.

According to Matheny, “citizens in Tennessee and across America are sick and tired of owners allowing their paid, uniformed employees to openly encourage their peers, and even more importantly the youth of America to emulate their unpatriotic behavior with any kind of state assistance. If teams decide to get back to their business of just playing their sport and being good role models then the State of Tennessee may once again revisit this issue with a future legislature”.  Matheny added that over 400,000 men and women have died and 1.5 million have been wounded to protect our nation in the last 75 years alone.

Note: The bill was formally filed Tuesday as HB1459.

News release from Sen. Paul Bailey (via Senate Republican Caucus)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Senator Paul Bailey (R-Sparta) today responded to numerous media inquiries regarding his social media posts expressing disappointment and opposition to numerous NFL football players’ #TakeAKnee protests. Over the weekend, Sen. Bailey posted on both Twitter and Facebook his disappointment in opposition to players not taking the field and standing for our National Anthem prior to kickoff. Bailey posted on Facebook, “I will not lend support for those who would disrespect America, by refusing to pause and stand in honor of our National Anthem.”

Sen. Bailey said today he would make good on his promise to leave his premium season ticket seats empty, saying, “I won’t witness the hijacking of pre-game ceremonies that disrespect our flag and challenge the honor of any of the men or women who have sacrificed to preserve our freedoms to enjoy these leisure-time activities.”

For the remainder of the season, Sen. Bailey said, he will leave his five 50-yard line seats vacant and donate an amount equal to the tickets value, split between two worthy organizations. The two organizations are C.O.P.S. (Concerns of Police Survivors), an organization which provides assistance to the families of fallen law enforcement officers, and the Upper Cumberland Honor Guard, which provides a proper military burial for veterans.

Sen. Bailey added, “My donation to these two organizations is meant to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our communities, as well as veterans no longer among us to stand in respect to our flag. I encourage others to do the same.”

Senator Bailey said his actions are not done in his role as an elected official, but as a Titan fan and season ticket holder.

“As Americans, we respect everyone’s right to protest, but dissent is a two-way street. My actions are to voice displeasure and disappointment at the current NFL teams’ behavior, which I believe disrespects those who have sacrificed their lives for our country, as well as law enforcement officers killed in their sworn duty to protect and serve our communities,” he continued.


Bailey concluded by encouraging all Titan fans to remember the words of the NFL commissioner Elmer Layden who introduced the National Anthem to pre-game activities during the turmoil and sacrifice of World War II, “The playing of the National Anthem should be as much a part of every game as the kickoff. We must not drop it simply because the war is over. We should never forget what it stands for.”

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