Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen were in attendance at the Indianapolis Colts’ game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, but they didn’t stay long. After 23 members of the 49ers knelt in protest during the national anthem, Pence made it very clear that their quiet demonstration was too much for him to handle.
I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
Sadly, Pence’s early departure sucked all the dignity out of this stellar matchup between a team with an 0-4 record and one with a 1-3 record.*
Included in Pence's series of post-anthem tweets was a lengthy statement that would have surpassed Twitter’s character limit. The vice president presumably assembled this image as he walked through the concourse and towards the exit. If this graphic had been made in advance, then what was supposed to be a spontaneous act of patriotic traffic-beating might have actually been little more than a political stunt. My stars!
Pool reporters shadowing the vice president were told to stay in their parked vans and not enter the stadium because Pence would likely be leaving early. To use NFL parlance, they telegraphed their play.
Donald Trump followed up Pence's tweets with one of his own to claim the whole thing had been his idea.
Trump knows a thing or two about leaving football games early, as he famously exited a Super Bowl viewing party at Mar-a-Lago when his beloved New England Patriots were losing.
Pence was at Lucas Oil Stadium to see the Colts retire Papa John’s spokesman Peyton Manning’s jersey. The vice president had been very excited about this ceremony, even tweeting out a photo of himself from a previous Colts game.
The vice president, too, has experience making hasty exits from events that feature pleas for equal rights. In November, he shuffled out of a performance of Hamilton during the curtain call after a cast member began to read a statement directed at Pence asking that he and the newly elected president help protect Americans’ “inalienable rights.”
At the moment, the Colts and 49ers are tied 6-6 at halftime. Pence is missing a real humdinger of a game.
*Correction, Oct. 9, 2017: This post originally misstated that both the Colts and 49ers were 0-4 ahead of Sunday’s game. The Colts were 1-3.