During a moment before a high school football game, while listening to the national anthem, four players on one team decided to take a knee in protest, and this wasn’t the first time. Prior to the game, one of the referees for the game decided that if the players were going to protest, he was going to protest their protest by walking away from the game, and that’s just what he did.
Ernie Lunardelli walked off the football field at Monroe High School in New Jersey. Reportedly, before the game, he told the officials assigner for the Greater Middlesex Conference that he was planning to walk away from the game if the players took a knee in protest during the national anthem.
Lunardelli explained, “I’m not in favor of anyone disrespecting our country, our flag, the armed forces.” He added, “What they’re protesting has nothing to do with the national anthem and I’m against it, so I decided to protest them kneeling and that’s what I did.”
According to Colts Neck Coach Darian Barnes, Lunardelli didn’t leave the field peacefully. Instead, he claims Lunardelli had to be pulled off the field. Lunardelli denies this claim explaining, “One of the coaches said something and it kind of irked me, and I just turned around and I was looking to see who it was.” He added, “Nobody pulled me; I walked off.”
The other referee at the game was Lunardelli’s son, Anthony Lunardelli, who graduated from Monroe High School in 2008 and used to play football at Monroe prior to graduation. He joined his dad, walking off the field and leaving the game in protest.
After the refs left the field, racist comments on social media supposedly made by Lunardelli came to light. The comments supposedly written by Lunardelli say that Barak and Michelle Obama should go “back to the zoo.” According to Lunardelli, he “was hacked” and did not make the comments. He added, “I’m standing by what I did and it has nothing to do with race or anything else.”
Lunardelli and his son both ended up resigning as refs.
Do you believe Lunardelli that he “was hacked”? Do you think it was out of line for him to protest the football players who decided to take a knee during the national anthem by refusing to ref the game?