ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall says standing up for social justice by kneeling during the national anthem before Denver’s season opener was worth it even though it cost him an endorsement deal.
The Air Academy Federal Credit Union on Friday terminated its five-month-old relationship with Marshall, President and CEO Glenn Strebe said in a Facebook post .
“AAFCU is a membership-based organization who has proudly served the military community for over 60 years. While we respect Brandon’s right of expression, his actions are not a representation of our organization and membership. We wish Brandon well on his future endeavors,” Strebe wrote.
Marshall said the move surprised him but he doesn’t regret his actions.
“Absolutely, they’re worth the consequences,” Marshall said. “I lost an endorsement. It’s OK, though, I figured that some type of repercussion would happen.”
Marshall said he respects the military, which fought for his freedoms, including the rights of free speech and peaceful protest.
“People can question my patriotism, but I have the utmost respect for this country, for this land, for the military,” Marshall said. “I’m not against any of those entities at all. As far as my patriotism, that shouldn’t be a question because I’m just upholding my rights. I can protest peacefully, I can stand or sit. I can say what I feel like saying. That’s what our military has fought for, the ability for everybody to be themselves. So, I’m just exercising that right and I will continue to do that.”
Marshall said some of his detractors suggest he should follow the example set by Pat Tillman, who cut short his NFL career to go to war.
They write that Tillman “is the ultimate patriot, the ultimate American,” Marshall said. “That’s what he felt was right. God put that on his heart. That was his calling, what he felt he should do. This is what I feel like. I feel like I should join this movement. But at the same time I should be active as well.”
He said he’ll donate time and money to worthy causes such as Wounded Warriors.
Marshall, a college teammate and fraternity brother of Colin Kaepernick , took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before Denver’s season opener against Carolina on Thursday night.
Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem during San Francisco’s preseason games, explaining it was to protest racial oppression and police brutality in the United States.
Marshall sounded a similar theme after Denver’s 21-20 win.
“I’m not against the military, I’m not against America,” he said. “I’m against social injustice.”
Marshall said Friday that he’s gotten a lot of positive feedback but more negative reactions, including some racist remarks on Twitter and Instagram.
“I had a lot of positive text messages, but as far as social media, I had a lot of racist comments, people calling me the N-word and calling me all kinds of derogatory terms. There’s a lot of hate out there but I’m not here to spread hate or negativity.”
Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall got some of the tweets meant for the Broncos linebacker.
“Now he knows what it feels like,” Marshall said. “Every time he does something or every time he’s been in the media for something negative or even something positive, I get all the criticism. All the stuff he says on ‘Inside the NFL,’ I get it. It’s crazy. So, now he knows what it feels like.”
Kaepernick’s gesture opened a wide debate and focused the microscope on a pregame tradition that has, for decades, been routine.
Marshall made no mention of his plans for Thursday’s opener, saying he didn’t want to take focus away from the team’s preparation. But shortly after a large American flag was unfurled, the fifth-year linebacker out of Nevada went to the end of a long row of Broncos and took a knee.
Marshall said he’s not sure how long he’ll continue to kneel for the national anthem.
Marshall said he asked a team spokesman to help him “come up with a strategy for an end-game.” He said he’s also going to confer with Kaepernick.
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton