Lou Scheinfeld, vice president of the Flyers in 1969, was the first to play Smith's version of "God Bless America" at a game. He didn't believe it at first when he read on Friday that the Flyers had dropped the song and covered her statue near the Wells Fargo Center.
Scheinfeld said the Flyers rushed to judgment.
"There couldn't have even been that much discussion in the front office," he assumed. "It was like, 'Oh my gosh, we've got to do this. The Yankees have done it and we don't want to upset our fans.' Well, it has backfired because it has really upset their fans."
Scheinfeld, who was close with the late Flyers chairman Ed Snider, said Snider would not have had a knee-jerk reaction.
"I believe Ed would have taken some time — maybe a day, 24 hours — to get a feel for this."
Scheinfeld also noted that the image of a statue bound with black cloth before being removed wouldn't have happened.
"There's a concrete base with dirt on it. Ed Snider would never have allowed his Flyers, his organization, to be embarrassed like this."