Griner, who is facing up to nine years in Russian prison on drug smuggling charges, came up in a discussion involving John Mellencamp. The rock legend was pictured sitting for the national anthem ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles-Indianapolis Colts game Sunday. The “Ain’t That America” singer appeared to be eating popcorn during the rendition, a visual that left fans disappointed.
“John Cougar Mellencamp sits for national anthem before Eagles game,” one Twitter user wrote. “Maybe if he spent some time with Britney Griner he would appreciate our Anthem more?”
Another fan questioned why Mellencamp wouldn’t stand for the national anthem.
“I think Brittney Griner would even stand now for the National Anthem,” the fan tweeted. “Why can’t John Mellencamp!! Even trade Griner home/Mellencamp to work camp in Russia.”
Griner, 33, was recently moved to a penal colony 200 miles outside of Moscow where she faces “abusive” conditions. The move has been confirmed by her attorneys, though the Russian government has yet to officially acknowledge it.
“As Griner rots in a Russian labor camp, Mellencamp feels safe as he plays to add to his fortune, courtesy of American capitalism,” a fan wrote. “He may sit all he wants.”
US Dismisses Russia’s Latest Claim in Brittney Griner Talks
Russia released a potentially encouraging statement Friday about negotiations to facilitate the return of Griner back to the U.S. Sergei Ryabkov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, said there was “activity” in talks to organize a prisoner swap between Griner and Viktor Bout. Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” is a convicted Russian arms dealer currently serving 25 years in U.S. prison.
“We haven’t found common ground yet, but, undoubtedly, Viktor Bout is among those being discussed and obviously we are hoping for a positive result,” Ryabkov said, via ESPN. “The Americans are showing certain activity and we are working on this through appropriate channels.”
A U.S. state department spokesperson subsequently dismissed the latest claim out of Russia.
“We are not going to comment on the specifics of any proposals other than to say that we have made a substantial offer that the Russian Federation has consistently failed to negotiate in good faith,” the statement said. “The U.S. Government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with the Russian government. The Russian government’s failure to seriously negotiate on these issues in the established channel, or any other channel for that matter runs counter to its public statements.”