All hell broke loose during the playing of the National Anthem during Saturday’s Air Force-New Mexico game in Albuquerque, leading the Lobos’ AD and head coach to apologize in totally contradictory ways while the players in question have apologized for nothing.
Let’s back up a bit.
Lightning in the Albuquerque on Saturday forced game officials to push traditional pre-game ceremonies to halftime in an effort to get the game played inside the CBS Sports Network broadcast window. But the weather arrived in between the first and second quarters, forcing a 61-minute delay before the beginning of the second frame. In response, game officials shrunk halftime from the standard 20 minutes to five, and both teams agreed to remain on the field for the abbreviated break. As part of the shrinking of halftime, both head coaches and the head official agreed the National Anthem would not be played.
One problem: No one told the New Mexico band.
The UNM band played the Anthem during the 5-minute halftime, which led five Lobos players to kneel.
New Mexico AD Eddie Nunez apologized to fans offended by the players’ (lack of) stance, telling listeners on his radio show, “My apology goes out to those who we offended in this process,” he said. “We’re going to help these young men and women support whatever cause they want to, but understanding there’s (other) ways to do it.”
Meanwhile, head coach Bob Davie apologized on behalf of the program to the players.
“I’m disappointed in the narrative so quickly going to ‘They did this out of disrespect for the military, they did this out of disrespect for the Air Force Academy,’ that they should be taken off scholarship, (that) ‘I won’t come to another game if those players play in the game,'” he said. “That narrative is divisive, and that narrative is hateful.”
At the center of all this, New Mexico players apologize for nothing. From the Albuquerque Journal:
“I have a cousin that recently retired from the military,” he said. “… I know personally and I really appreciate what they do because I know how they risk their life.
“I took a knee because I stand behind what Kap was standing for, and this is my way to get this message out.”
Hughes, as well, said no disrespect was intended.
“We took a knee for something we believe in,” he said. “We took a knee to stand with Kaepernick against injustice in America right now.
“We didn’t do it to disrespect the flag. There was, honestly, no negative connotation. It was a positive protest.”
New Mexico won the game, 56-38. Safe to say New Mexico will have its National Anthem procedures figured out before the Lobos’ next home game against Colorado State on Oct. 20.