Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall stood at his locker after last Thursday night’s game and said he understood he would lose fans after he took a knee during the national anthem to protest social injustice.
So he wasn’t surprised when the criticism started. And he has had a measured response for everything, even for the person who showed up at the Broncos’ facilities to burn a T-shirt with Marshall’s name on it.
Marshall had fun with that one, as he should have.
There have been some companies that have ended their sponsorship agreements with the Broncos linebacker. Marshall immediately lost a sponsorship last week, from Air Academy Federal Credit Union. On Monday a second sponsor, CenturyLink, said it was ending its relationship with Marshall.
“We completely respect Brandon Marshall’s personal decision and right to take an action to support something in which he strongly believes,” the communications company said in a statement. “America is anchored in the right of individuals to express their beliefs. While we acknowledge Brandon’s right, we also believe that whatever issues we face, we also occasionally must stand together to show our allegiance to our common bond as a nation. In our view, the national anthem is one of those moments. For this reason, while we wish Brandon the best this season, we are politely terminating our agreement with him.”
Marshall wasn’t fazed by losing another sponsor. He said he’ll continue to kneel during the anthem this season.
“I’m still doing what I believe in. It’s not going to make me lose any sleep,” Marshall said, according to the Broncos’ transcripts.
Marshall said he is scheduled to meet with Denver Chief of Police Robert White on Tuesday, which is the players’ day off for most NFL teams.
The criticism is new for Marshall, who was a popular member of the Broncos’ great defense last season that led the team to a Super Bowl 50 win. There are plenty of people who support Marshall, and his college teammate Colin Kaepernick, and their protest. But Marshall is seeing aggressive comments and actions against him for what has to be the first time in his career, at least to this extent.
And he had a pretty remarkable response to all of the negativity being directed his way.
“It’s a hateful world. I’m not here to spread hate,” Marshall said, according to the Broncos’ transcripts. “I’m not here to respond to the hate. I’m here to spread love and positivity. I’m a likeable guy. I was once a fan favorite for a reason. It’s cool because people can call me the N-word or cuss at me or say they wish I would break my neck all they want. There’s no backlash from me. Hate can’t drive out hate. Only love can drive out hate.”
It’s hard to argue with that sentiment.
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