Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison is speaking out to further address racist taunts and “disgustingly disrespectful messages” he received after his team lost against the Philadelphia Eagles last week. On Friday (Sept. 15), in a since-deleted post, he exposed screenshots of people calling him the N-word, a coon, and other racist epithets.
On Saturday (Sept. 16), Mattison spoke out again about the controversy. He began by expressing gratitude for the support he and his family have been shown in the wake of his revealing the racism he regularly faces. He noted that he did not disclose the messages for attention or pity but instead to shed light on what happens in the dark. He stated that sitting by idly is simply not an option, as he is a huge advocate for mental health and positivity through his I Am Gifted Foundation.
“We are real people under the helmet — men, sons, husbands, and brothers. We should not be dehumanized, nor should our identities or ethnicities be attached to our play on the field … We are not players in a video game. We are more than just Sunday entertainment,” he wrote.
He continued, “Racism at its core is centered in fear and ignorance, and the only way we can work against it is to address it head-on. Fifty-six percent of the NFL is comprised of Black men, so I know I am not the only one who has had this negative experience. We deserve better from the fans.” Comments on the post were disabled, but it still received an overwhelming amount of support, with more than 18,000 likes.
Both the NFL and the Vikings released statements condemning the racist comments. The league reminded fans to “remember the humanity of all players and celebrate their contributions to the game we all love.” Mattison’s team said they were sickened by the hatred directed at him. “There simply is no room for racist words or actions in sports or society,” read their statement in part. They also admonished the behavior for being ignorant, something fans and the franchise must continue to fight against.
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