Roger Carstens and Brittney Griner via CNN and ESPN YouTube

U.S. Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens described Brittney Griner as “patriotic” after detailing his role in greeting Griner on a tarmac in the United Arab Emirates and flying back with her to the United States.

Brittney Griner Photo Credit: УГМК, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Carstens detailed his experience to CNN’s Dana Bash saying, “It’s always kind of an exciting moment when you jump on the other country’s plane and walk up to a person and, in this case, Brittney. And I’ll tell you what I told her. I said, ‘Brittney, my name is Ambassador Roger Carstens. I’m with the U.S. Department of State. And on behalf of the President of the United States, Joe Biden, and Secretary of State Tony Blinken, I’m here to take you home.'”

He then detailed, “And at that moment, I think every person finally starts to realize that it’s going to happen – it’s setting in. Certainly, Brittney felt that way. And at that point we have go to through a little more of the choreography to get her on the plane. Usually takes about 3 minutes.”

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He then spun his narrative, “But here’s what I wouldn’t mind telling you. When she finally got onto the U.S. plane. I said, ‘Brittney, you must have been through a lot over the last ten months. Here’s your seat. Please feel free to decompress. We’ll give you your space.’ And she said, ‘Oh, no. I’ve been in prison for ten months now, listening to Russian. I want to talk. But first of all, who are these guys?’”

Carstens then relayed,  “And she moved right past me and went to every member on that crew, looked them in the eyes, shook their hands and asked about them, got their names. Making a personal connection with them. It was really amazing.”

Roger Carstens via CNN YouTube

Carstens then detailed that Griner spent about 12 hours of the 18 hour flight back to the United States talking. He then informed Bash of the impression he received from Griner, “I was left with the impression that this is an intelligent, passionate, compassionate, humble, interesting person, a patriotic person, but above all, authentic.”

He added, “I hate the fact that I had to meet her in this manner, but I actually felt blessed having had a chance to get to know her.”

Minnesota Lynx vs Phoenix Mercury at Target Center in Minneapolis, MN on July 14 2019; the Lynx won the game 75-62. Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

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Before being arrested, pleading guilty, and ultimately being convicted in Russia for drug possession and smuggling, Griner was known for her anti-American protests during WNBA games during the summer of 2020.

In July 2020, Griner stated, “I honestly feel we should not play the National Anthem during our season I think we should take that much of a stand.”

She then tried to claim her call to stop the playing of the National Anthem wasn’t anti-American, “I don’t mean that in any disrespect to our country. My dad was in Vietnam and a law officer for 30 years. I wanted to be a cop before basketball. I do have pride for my country.”

Griner then detailed the measures she was willing to take to protest the Anthem, “I’m not going to be out there for the National Anthem. If the league continues to want to play it, that’s fine. It will be all season long, I’ll not be out there. I feel like more are going to probably do the same thing. I can only speak for myself.”

Brittney Griner via Basketball Box W YouTube

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In 2015, Griner also indicated she would not play in Indiana due to the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. She told TMZ Sports, “If the Women’s Final Four was there I damn sure wouldn’t have went.”

Griner then repeated, “If the Women’s Final Four was there I wouldn’t have went. I don’t want to be discriminated.”

John Matrixx of Black and White Sports YouTube reacted to Carstens’ comments saying, “Now, it’s time for the media and the Biden administration to paint Brittney Griner in a very, very different light than what she actually is.”

He added, “They are going to spin Brittney Griner into some type of a victim and an American patriot.”

Matrixx then declared, “Brittney Griner, we know, she is definitely not an American patriot, but they are trying to spin her as one.”

What do you make of Carsten’s spin on Brittney Griner?

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