Delanie Walker: Death threats a reminder 'country remains divided'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker said he and his family have received death threats since his comments earlier this week telling fans not to come to games if they felt disrespected by the team's decision to protest during the national anthem.

Players for the Titans, along with the Seattle Seahawks, stayed in the locker room while the anthem was performed before Tennessee's 33-27 win Sunday. The Pittsburgh Steelers did the same before their game Sunday.

Walker, in an Instagram post featuring a picture with him greeting military members, called the death threats "heartbreaking."

"The racist and violent words directed at me and my son only serve as another reminder that our country remains divided and full of hateful rhetoric," Walker wrote in the caption. "These words of hate will only fuel me in my efforts to continue my work reaching out to different community groups, listening to opposing voices, and honoring the men and women of the Armed Forces who risk their lives everyday so we may have this dialogue."

The Titans said in a statement Friday that they were aware of the threats and had passed them to NFL Security to examine.

Walker declined to speak to reporters Friday, but coach Mike Mularkey said they were "alarmed" by the threats and added that he supports his players' right to free speech.

"Everyone respects Delanie Walker," Mularkey said. "I know he's as much of a pro as I've ever been around -- on and off the field. That's important. If they get a chance to speak, they're allowed to."

Nashville police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether they are investigating the threats.

Walker wasn't alone in receiving backlash for protesting during the anthem at the Titans-Seahawks game. The Titans say they have received death threats on their team social media accounts as well.

And singer Meghan Linsey, who decided to take a knee at the end of her anthem performance, told The Tennessean that she, too, has received death threats.

"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," Linsey told The Tennessean. "I feel like I did the right thing. I don't have any regrets."

The 33-year-old Walker is one of the Titans' oldest and most respected players. He often represents the team at speaking opportunities.

Earlier this week, Walker defended the Titans' decision to stay in the locker room during the anthem and expressed indifference toward fans who felt disrespected by the protest.

"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," Walker said Monday. "No one's telling you to come to the game. It's your freedom of choice."

Walker has been a vocal supporter of the military and flew to the Middle East earlier this year on a NFL-sponsored USO trip. One of the Titans' five active captains, he was a part of the Titans' leadership that made a decision with Seahawks leadership to remain inside during the anthem.

Walker and the Titans said their message has been one of unity. He expressed disgust with President Donald Trump's criticism of players who have protested during the anthem, adding that he doesn't believe the Titans would visit the White House if they won the Super Bowl.

Titans receiver Rishard Matthews, whose father and brother served in the military, said he would kneel until Trump apologizes for his remarks. Matthews has decided to donate $75,000 to organizations working in oppressed communities.