Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker says he received death threats after he made comments following his team's decision to stay in the locker room for the national anthem before Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.
In a post on his official Instagram page, Walker said the "death threats that my family and I have received since my comments are heartbreaking."
Walker made it clear his team supports the troops and suggested the fans should not come to games if they are offended, per Jason Wolf of USA Today:
"First off, I'm going to say this: We're not disrespecting the military, the men and women that serve in the Army. That's not what it's all about. If you look at most of the guys in here—I've been in the USO. I support the troops. This is not about that. It's about equal rights, and that's all everyone is trying to show, is that we all care about each other.
"And the fans that don't want to come to the game? I mean, OK. Bye. I mean, if you feel that's something, 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."
The Titans weren't the only team in their game to remain off the field for the national anthem, as the Seahawks did the same. The Pittsburgh Steelers—with the exception of offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva—also stayed in the locker room before their Sunday contest against the Chicago Bears.
A number of other players and teams demonstrated during the anthem Sunday, with some locking arms in unity and others taking a knee. The Dallas Cowboys knelt before the song leading up to their Monday game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Walker's family is not the only one to receive backlash as Detroit Lions defensive lineman Akeem Spence tweeted Thursday, "Got some awful news from my father a contractor deny giving him a job on doing a house because of my peaceful protest."
While Colin Kaepernick first made waves last season for protesting police brutality and racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem when he was a member of the San Francisco 49ers, things reached a fever pitch Sunday after President Donald Trump weighed in on the practice.
He said during a Friday rally owners should "get that son of a bitch off the field right now" if a player didn't stand for the anthem. He also tweeted the NFL should institute a policy forcing players to stand during the anthem.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement criticizing Trump's comments.