After the Pittsburgh Steelers stayed in the locker room for the national anthem before their game on Sunday, a Pennsylvania fire chief wrote on Facebook that “[head coach Mike] Tomlin just added himself to the list of no good niggers. Yes I said it.”
Several county firefighters saw the post and contacted local Pittsburgh television station Channel 11, which first reported the story.
When contacted by Channel 11, Smith, who runs the Cecil Township Volunteer Fire Department No. 2, said he was sorry:
“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.”
The Cecil Township board of supervisors said they were “deeply disturbed” by Smith’s comments. From CBS Pittsburgh:
“The Cecil Township Board of Supervisors is deeply disturbed by the comments made by Volunteer Chief Smith, and in no way, shape or form condone his comments. In that the volunteer fire departments are independent entities, the board suggests contacting the president of the Muse Fire Department regarding any further comment or action.”
As Smith is the type of guy who uses the n-word (without compunction and on a public platform), he likely would’ve had a problem with Tomlin no matter what the Steelers did during the national anthem. That Tomlin effectively erased his players’ opportunity to exercise their right to protest during the anthem by forcing them to stay in the locker room in the name of “unity” was clearly far too much for Smith to consider.