NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A long-time Tennessee Titans fan and veteran was caught on camera returning his beloved team's merchandise this week after the team refused to take the field during the national anthem.
"I have a personal problem with the way that the organization and the Titans have displayed by dishonoring my flag and my country. I love the Titans. I respect them, but this is not where I want to be," Jim Simpson told WKRN news.
Simpson, who served in the Army National Guard, began following the team when they moved to Nashville, but he said the disrespect shown at last Sunday's game was too much. He served and so did many generations of his family.
"It's been on my heart for a long time," he said as he returned the beloved merchandise to Nissan Stadium.
"I'm here as a former Titans fan and PSL holder to turn in all of my Titans stuff. I'm no longer gonna root for the Titans."
Since that game, the team and several players have reported receiving death threats online, ESPN reported. Singer Meghan Linsey, who performed the national anthem at Sunday's game and took a knee, also acknowledged the backlash on social media.
"I've been waking up with anxiety a lot, and it's hard to eat food and sleep, but other than that, I'm good," she reportedly told reporters.
On Wednesday, tight end Delanie Walker responded to criticism over the team's decision by stating anyone who didn't like it could stay home.
"Fans that don't want to come to the game? OK, bye. If you feel we're disrespecting you, don't come to the game. You don't have to. No one's telling you to come to the game. It's your freedom of choice."
Walker, who is reportedly a vocal supporter of the military, went on to say the act was one of unity and was not intended to disrespect the armed forces.
However, it appears the decision was not made by the entire team. In a tweet, Jessie James Decker, the wife of Eric Decker, stated "my husband was not made aware [until] it was time to go out for the game. Unfortunately a decision was made for him without him knowing."
Sources said Titans coach Mike Mularkey was under the impression the decision was made by the entire team.
Eric Decker's wife says her husband was caught off guard by the teams decision to stay in the locker room for the National Anthem. pic.twitter.com/HypbNCOkcg
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) September 25, 2017