Thursday 22 February 2018

NFL star Delanie Walker reveals he has received death threats and racist abuse since anthem protest

Delanie Walker #82, Marcus Mariota #8, Wesley Woodyard #59, Jurrell Casey #99 and Brian Orakpo #98 of the Tennessee Titans walk out of the tunnel with arms locked before a game against the Seattle Seahawks at Nissan Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Seahawks 33-27. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Delanie Walker #82, Marcus Mariota #8, Wesley Woodyard #59, Jurrell Casey #99 and Brian Orakpo #98 of the Tennessee Titans walk out of the tunnel with arms locked before a game against the Seattle Seahawks at Nissan Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Seahawks 33-27. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Ed Malyon

To call last weekend in the NFL a momentous one would be somewhat underplaying it. A week when the football was extraordinary but still comprehensively overshadowed by what went on before a whistle had even been blown.

With the president at war with the league, calling its players “sons of bitches” for protesting the national anthem and demanding they be sacked, there was significant pushback.

Delanie Walker didn’t protest alone, he and the rest of his teammates with the Tennessee Titans all decided to stay in the locker room for the anthem, only emerging – along with their opponents, the Seattle Seahawks – once the pre-game pomp and controversy was over.

But Walker had never imagined the reaction that would garner, and he wants those racially abusing and threatening him and his family with death that they are only strengthening his will to fight for justice.

“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 [sic] 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.”

Walker’s comments to a newspaper that this protest was nothing to do with the armed forces had riled Tennesse fans. But the tight end, who visited American military bases earlier this year, was once again keen to clarify that his protest had nothing to do with the army.

“One of the many things I gained from spending time in the Middle East on the NFL’s USO Tour this spring, is an appreciation for America’s core values and an even greater appreciation for the men and women that defend those values. 

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.”

Independent News Service

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