Titans' Walker says death threats followed anthem action

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Tennessee Titans player Delanie Walker said he has received death threats since defending the Titans' recent decision to skip the national anthem, according to an Instagram post on Thursday.

Walker described the Titans fans as "the best in the NFL," but he also defended the statement he made Wednesday about fans threatening to boycott the Titans due to players demonstrating during the national anthem. He said the death threats extend to his family as well.

"And the fans that don't want to come to the game? I mean. OK. Bye," he told The Tennessean newspaper on Wednesday. "If you feel that's something -- we're disrespecting you, don't come to the game."

His Instagram post Thursday went on to say, "In being asked about our team's decision on Sunday to stay in the locker room for the National Anthem, I used strong words to defend our right to make our own choices. Both my choice to spark dialogue for positive change and the fans' choice to attend our games. It's that freedom of choice that makes our democracy the envy of many around the world.

"The death threats that my family and I have received since my comments are heartbreaking. 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.

"I am proud to represent the many faces of Titans fans and believe that only through a more respectful discourse can we achieves the goals of unity, peace and racial equality that I know we all strive for."

The Titans were among three NFL teams to skip the anthem Sunday, after President Donald Trump's inflammatory remarks during a speech Friday in Alabama in which he said players should be fired if they don't stand for The Star-Spangled Banner.