Jacksonville Jaguars fan says he was asked to leave stadium for silent protest

by: Brittney Donovan, Action News Jax Updated:

JAGS APOLOGIZE: Jaguars president apologizes for London protests

RELATED: Clay County man pays to have plane fly 'Boycott Jags, NFL' banner

A Jacksonville Jaguars fan says he was asked to leave EverBank Field on Sunday after he brought several signs into the stadium as part of a 'silent protest.'

Scott Nieminen says he has had the same seats at EverBank Field since 1995.

He says he showed up Sunday with several signs and intended to stay for the National Anthem, and then leave.

"I was asked to remove my signs or leave because they were a 'political statement,'" Nieminen wrote on Facebook.

The signs read, "I'll be back when NFL and Jags apologize," "I'm leaving after the Anthem. Respect our flag," and "Don't tread on me." 

A Jaguars spokesperson told Action News Jax that he was offered the opportunity to turn his sign over to a security member and remain for the game or return his sign to his car.  

He opted to leave.

According to the Jaguars.com fan guide, fans can bring handheld signs into EverBank Field if the signs are appropriate as determined by EverBank Field personnel and meet the following requirements: 

  • Signs cannot be obscene, offensive, commercial or political. 
  • Signs cannot obstruct the view of other patrons, cover any stadium signage or other markings, or be affixed to the walls, pads, railings or any other part of EverBank Field.
  • Signs must be made of a paper or lightweight cloth-like material.
  • Signs cannot utilize wood, pole, metal or similar types of materials for support.  
  • Maximum dimensions of a permitted sign are 3 feet by 2 feet.

Nieminen's silent protest took place on the same day a Green Cove Springs man paid to have a plane fly a 'Boycott Jags, NFL' banner above EverBank Field.

"So much for exercising my democratic right. ... Sorry NFL and Jags you had a chance to win me back but I think you just sealed the deal. Taking a knee is ok but having a sign isn’t? Wow!" he said.

Nieminen told Action News Jax that he is disappointed with the response he received at the stadium.

"As an inaugural fan, I was very disappointed with the approach the Jaguars took with my silent protest," he said.

Nieminen's full statement:

"I can say that since London I haven’t been interested in watching. I was dumbfounded yesterday  when I was told to remove my signs.

When we we make mistakes we are taught to take responsibility and apologize. I don’t think that’s asking too much. The NFL and owners have an opportunity to lead the league. All the disgruntled fans I’ve spoken to indicate they would extend grace and be back if an apology was offered.

Having served and fought for our undeniable right of free speech and expression I respect everyone’s ability to do that whether I agree or not with the opinion being expressed. That has always been my steadfast opinion. If the players were doing it on their time I wouldn’t have a problem.

I shared with a friend yesterday one of my favorite quotes “keep hope alive.” In that regard I sincerely hope I can enjoy NFL football again. 

The NFL and Jaguars need to do the right thing."

Jaguars full statement:

Per our sign policy this gentleman was offered the opportunity to turn his sign over to a security member and remain for the game or return his sign to his car.  He opted to leave, as is his right.  Our sign policy is located here in our Fan Guide: http://www.jaguars.com/fanguide/index.html#Banners

As it is our goal to treat each season ticket member on an individual basis, our sales team had a good conversation with him today to hear his thoughts and opinions.  He has told our team he intends to keep his tickets for the year as other members of his family will continue to use them."

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