After working for nearly three decades at New York’s New Era Field, a man quit his job Sunday after Buffalo Bills team members knelt in protest during the national anthem.
“I waited until the national anthem ended,” stadium worker Erich Nikischer told WGRZ. “I took off my shirt, threw my Bills hat on the ground (and) walked out.”
Nikischer told the news station that he felt Bills players were being disrespectful with their failure to stand during the anthem, echoing statements made by President Donald Trump over the weekend in which he criticized players who have used the pre-game anthem for protest.
“That’s a total disrespect for our heritage,” Trump told a crowd gathered in Alabama on Friday. “That's a total disrespect for everything we stand for.”
Trump’s comments drew both criticism and applause.
Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula said in a statement Saturday that the team had a meeting in the wake of Trump’s comments, which they called “divisive and disrespectful.”
“We tried to use them as an opportunity to further unify our team and our organization,” the statement said. “Our players have the freedom to express themselves in a respectful and thoughtful manner, and we all agreed that our sole messages is to provide and to promote an environment that is focused on love and equality.”
Nikischer told WGRZ that he will miss his co-workers, but added that he will not return to the stadium until after the national anthem protests end.
“I believe people have the right to protest,” Nikischer said. “I just don’t believe that’s the proper venue for it.”