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Loewen hoping for another shot in NFL

Lahainaluna graduate stands behind anti-LGBTQ stance

Mitchell Loewen, a 2011 Lahainaluna High School graduate, was cut by the Saints in May. — AP file photo

Mitchell Loewen has always been a devout man of conviction and he’s not about to stop now.

The 2011 Lahainaluna High School graduate was cut by the New Orleans Saints in May, but his NFL dream still burns brightly within him.

“My goal is to just keep pursuing it as far as the Lord will take me,” Loewen said via phone from his home in Fayetteville, Ark., on Friday. “And he has got me this far and I’m super thankful for all the opportunities that I’ve had and got to play in and everyone I’ve got to meet, coaches I’ve got to play for. So, yeah, I’m still in it. I’m still training, I’m still hoping for another shot.”

Usually a defensive lineman as a pro, the 6-foot-5, 285-pounder has been catching passes from former Arkansas teammate Brandon Allen — the pair throw together about once a week. In three seasons playing for the Saints, he has played in four regular-season games for a total of 66 snaps on defense and special teams, recording two tackles.

After starting at Arkansas as a walk-on, quickly earning a scholarship, playing seven different positions for the Razorbacks, going undrafted and signing with the Saints in 2016, but missing that season due to injury, Loewen is not about to give up on his dreams as a 27-year-old.

Mitchell Loewen of the New Orleans Saints sits on the field after suffering an injury during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in August 2018. — AP file photo

“It’s all a testament to just trusting the Lord and working hard,” Loewen said. “I tell people all the time: ‘At this level there’s a lot of guys who are great at football who aren’t playing right now because something happened.’ Either they got in trouble or they just didn’t make it or could perform on a certain day because that’s what it comes down to every single day. I’m just super thankful that I’ve made it this far, and grateful.”

Loewen is married to fellow Lahainaluna graduate Jena — the couple have two sons, Luke, 3, and 1-year-old Jack. The family goal is to return to Maui after Loewen’s pro football career is over.

“I mean, at the end of the day I want to move back to Maui and teach young men about the game and show them everything that I know because I’ve learned so much — I’ve learned so much more than I ever thought I would know about the game and where it can take you and what it can do for your life,” Loewen said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough with his status of trying to find a spot that fits him in the league. He was cut by the Saints in mid-May after they picked up Ty Montgomery.

“It’s affecting everyone right now,” he said. “It’s affecting me because during this time we should be in OTAs and I should be able to showcase my skillset and whatnot, but I wasn’t able to do that so they picked up a guy who had a more-proven track record with Ty Montgomery, the running back. They picked him up and they cut me — that’s what it is, a numbers game.”

Loewen declined to comment on the Black Lives Matter movement when asked on Friday, but he did make a definitive statement on his Instagram feed last week.

Below an image of the NFL shield in front of a rainbow color scheme supporting LGBTQ rights during Pride Month, Loewen addressed a response to @nfl and @nflpa stating: “I don’t support people living a gay lifestyle. This is not hate speech, I simply just disagree. This world is backwards.”

Loewen did not hesitate to back up his post when asked Friday.

“For the NFL to support that, I feel like there should have been some kind of vote because we’re all represented in the NFL and I know a lot of guys in the game that don’t support that lifestyle,” Loewen said. “So for them to just blatantly come out saying that they support it, I know there’s a lot of guys who don’t support it, so it’s a weird time to just throw that out there for strictly being politically correct.”

Loewen added: “I didn’t sign up to be politically correct when I first started playing football — I signed up to play football. I feel like people are taking things too seriously for anyone who’s in the media or in the limelight. And nowadays in the social media everyone’s voice matters, but that’s a double-edged sword because once you disagree with the narrative you become ostracized and you become the enemy and that’s not what I signed up for. I signed up to play football and if they want to ask for my opinion they can have it, but other than that it is what it is.”

Loewen said his agent warned him that his post could cost him another chance to make it in the NFL. He took that warning and moved on.

“At the end of the day, it has to be said,” he said. “The way I see it is it has to be addressed, especially if there’s guys disagreeing with it. There’s so many people speaking out against violence and police brutality because they don’t agree with it — and I’m right there with them — but then there’s other issues like supporting the gay lifestyle. The way I see it, it is enabling people to live in sin and that’s just, that’s a road to destruction.”

Loewen said that he felt he had to say something about the subject for his young family.

“I’m going against society as we see it nowadays because it’s being fast-tracked into our media and the (TV) shows,” Loewen said. “My kids are going to have to grow up with a lot more distractions and stuff like that than I did, so for me to sit by and not say anything about it and still be a good example for my kids, I’d be a big hypocrite.

“So, I have to stand up, even if it’s just a little post saying, ‘Hey, I simply disagree with this.’ It’s not hate speech and if we can’t disagree with things on a professional level nowadays then I don’t know where we’re at.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

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