From the parole of O.J. Simpson at the top of October to the steady momentum gained by the NFL players and teams who have risked their careers to stand up for racial inequality by not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, the threat of death for exercising one’s First Amendment rights takes any fun that was left in America’s favorite game.

Along with a constant stream of insults hurled by President Donald Trump, fans promising to boycott games and a social movement that has been co-opted in numerous ways, now comes news that Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker and his family are receiving death threats due to his stance.

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

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Walker gave a lengthy comment after last Sunday’s game — in which the Titans stayed in the locker room for the anthem — on the negativity surrounding the protests. He was trying to clarify what the protests are about. It seems some are still not getting the message.

“We’re not disrespecting the military, the men and women that serve in the Army. That’s not what it’s all about.” Walker told the media. “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.”