A volunteer fire chief in Pennsylvania was removed from his post after directing a racial slur at Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
On Sunday, Muse Fire Department Volunteer Fire Chief Paul Smith wrote in a Facebook post, “Tomlin just added himself to the list of no good N-Words. Yes I said it.”
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His comment was in response to the Steelers’ decision to remain in the locker room as the U.S. anthem played ahead of Sunday’s game in Chicago.
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After Smith posted his comment, several firefighters told a local TV station they were uncomfortable with the comment.
Smith then issued an apology to WPXI.com saying: “I am embarrassed at this. I want to apologize. I was frustrated and angry at the Steelers not standing for the anthem. … This had nothing to do with my fire department. I regret what I said.”
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The fire department is located in Cecil Township, which is located around 30 km from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ training facility.
Several firefighters told the station that local fire stations have been receiving threats since the comment.
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On Monday afternoon, the Cecil Township Board of Supervisors announced Smith had been removed from his role.
In an effort to remain neutral in the “take a knee” controversy, Tomlin had his players remain in the locker room.
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One player, Alejandro Villanueva, ended up standing alone in the entrance tunnel saluting as the anthem played. The former Army Ranger stood alone with his hand over his heart on the fringe of the field as The Star-Spangled Banner blared.
Villanueva apologized on Monday for what he called the team’s “butchered” plan to have him remain at the front of the line but still out of sight.
Several Steelers fans took to social media on Sunday to share videos of themselves burning team merchandise.
— With files from Associated Press