Tennesee Titans tight end Delanie Walker ignited the spite of NFL fans after he gave his brutally honest opinion about their opposition to athletes’ protests. Apparently, football aficionados were none too pleased when they heard Walker wouldn’t miss their patronage. In response, he got death threats hurled his way.
“The death threats that my family and I have received since my comments are heartbreaking,” he wrote on Instagram Thursday, Sept. 28. “The racist and violent words directed at me and my son only serve as another reminder that our country remains divided and full of hateful rhetoric. These words of hate will only fuel me in my efforts to continue my work reaching out to different community groups, listening to opposing voices, and honoring the men and women in the Armed Forces who risk their lives every day so that we may have this dialogue.”
Walker noted that he “used strong words to defend [football players’] right to make our own choices. Both my choice to spark dialogue for positive change and the fans’ choice to attend our games.”
The controversy began over Walker’s defense of the Titans remaining in the locker room during the national anthem Sunday, Sept. 24. He began by clarifying what the protest was about (“It’s about equal rights”) and made it clear he supports the troops.
The New Wave of NFL Protest
“The fans that don’t want to come to the game? I mean, OK. Bye,” Walker told the Tennessean Wednesday, Sept 27. “I mean, if you feel … we’re disrespecting you, don’t come to the game. You don’t have to. No one’s telling you to come to the game. It’s your freedom of choice to do that.”
Regardless of the backlash, Walker received lots of support on Instagram.
Walker isn’t the only footballer to have received death threats for taking a stand. When Colin Kaepernick spurred the movement of NFL stars protesting, he said he received “a few” threats on social media.
“I knew there were other things that came along with this when I first stood up and spoke about it,” he told reporters last year. “It’s not something I haven’t thought about.”