Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews said that he’d quit playing in the NFL if there was a rule mandating players stand for the national anthem.
He was asked on Twitter Thursday by a local Nashville producer if he would remain in the locker room or tunnel during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” if the NFL created a rule for players to stand.
“No, I will be done playing football,” Matthews responded, ESPN reported. He then quickly deleted the tweet.
Matthews has protested the national anthem in the past, following in the footsteps of currently unsigned quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend of protesting the national anthem a year ago in the name of protesting “police brutality” and “racial injustice.” Kaepernick sparked heavy backlash from fans and officials, who argue it is neither the venue, not the time to protest those issues.
President Donald Trump put the debate front and center when he weighed in on it during a rally in Alabama.
“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage, that’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” Trump said, referring to those kneeling during the anthem.
Courageous Patriots have fought and died for our great American Flag — we MUST honor and respect it! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Matthews’s father and half-brother have both served in the Marines: his father served for 23 years, and his half-brother died in a plane crash in Afghanistan.
Last month, Matthews said that he was donating $75,000 to a group of “organizations working in oppressed communities.”
“I’m tired of hearing, ‘Stick to sports.’ It comes down to right and wrong in this world,” Matthews told ESPN last month of the protest. “If you see wrong and don’t say anything, that’s wrong. As minorities, what do you want to happen before we say anything? They tried to have a silent protest, and look what happened. It’s your right to stand or sit down. You have that right, that freedom of speech, and you’re not allowing that to happen.”
Titans tight end Delanie Walker last month said that fans who felt disrespected by the anthem protest should stay home.
According to The Associated Press, in the aftermath, Walker said he’s received death threats. He called them “heartbreaking.”