A New Jersey high school football referee who walked off the field in protest after players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem on Friday night is at the center of a new controversy involving a racist Facebook comment.
Ernie Lunardelli said his Facebook account was once hacked and he denies ever writing the words, “Thanks for f***ing up the country!! Back to the zoo!!!” in reply to a Jan. 20 Facebook post featuring a picture of Michelle and Barack Obama that thanked them for their service to the country.
“I did not write it,” Lunardelli said of the comment attached to his Facebook profile. “Somebody is trying to cause problems. I was hacked at one time. I don’t remember when it was. I had to change everything. I don’t remember when it was, though.”
Lunardelli, who said he is not a racist, and his son, Anthony, both walked off the field prior to the start of Friday night’s game between Colts Neck and Monroe after four players from one of the teams took a knee during the anthem.
“Anybody that disrespects the flag, in my eyes, it’s not right,” said Ernie Lunardelli, a veteran scholastic football official in his 18th season. “What they are doing with this kneeling and everything, they have the right do to that, but the national anthem has nothing to do with them kneeling. The flag has got nothing to do with why they are protesting. If they want to protest, let them protest, but don’t disrespect our country, the flag and the armed forces.”