In a recent interview, the NFL’s Tennessee Titans tight-end Delanie Walker addressed fans who were threatening to boycott the league due to players kneeling or, in some cases, not even coming out onto the ground for the pre-game Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem with a single-word response — “Bye.”
The Titans were one of several teams that skipped the anthem completely last weekend when they, along with their opponents, the Seattle Seahawks, stayed in the locker room as the national anthem played on Sunday at Nissan Stadium. The Titans haven’t stated whether they plan to continue their silent protest this Sunday when they head to Houston to play the Texans, but Walker made his feelings clear after the Seahawks game.
“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.”
Walker wasn’t alone in his stance, as Titans cornerback Logan Ryan echoed his sentiments. “That’s their choice. That’s the beauty of this country, Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and everyone’s opinion is equal,” Ryan said. “So right, wrong or indifferent, that’s the beauty of this country — that everyone should have equal rights and equal opinions on what they want. If they don’t want to watch, that’s their choice. That’s perfect.”
Ryan may have been a little more subtle about his comments, but Walker’s statement didn’t sit well with some fans, so much so that he and his family have received death threats since he made the comments after Sunday’s game. Walker revealed that he had been receiving such threats in a recent Instagram post:
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The Tennessee Titans fans are the best in the NFL. What we do on the field every Sunday would mean nothing without knowing we are supported by the city of Nashville and the fans that have been by our side over the years. 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. 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. Titan Up
Titans coach Mike Mularkey is keeping quiet about the whole situation, refusing to answer any questions about the protests, but acknowledging the media’s need to ask. “I know you have to ask, and I don’t have to answer. Again, I’m sticking to my statement. I’m going to leave it at that. And I appreciate you not asking again.”