A relief fire chief was forced to resign after posting a racist rant aimed at the National Football League's (NFL's) Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
The team faced fiery opposition for remaining in the locker room while the U.S. anthem was being performed. Most notably, Paul Smith – a chief at Pennsylvania's Cecil Township Volunteer Fire Station – tersely scolding Coach Tomlin.
"Tomlin just added himself to the list of no good niggers," Smith wrote on Facebook. "Yes, I said it."
Tomlin is Pittsburgh’s first black head coach and only the second black NFL coach to win the Super Bowl, which he did in 2009.
Smith's comments were met with shock and largely decried.
Cecil's township manager promptly announced, on Tuesday, that Smith would no longer be serving as the chief for the volunteer company. The board of supervisors said, in a statement, that it was "deeply disturbed by the comments made by Volunteer Chief Smith, and in no way, shape or form condone his comments," reported CBS News.
"I'm completely upset, especially for a town like this, coming from the fire chief, that's disrespectful in my eyes," Cecil township resident Dylan Pareso told KDKA. "I don't agree with it one bit."
Another resident, Mary Plumley, added: "For a fire chief or for anybody like that to say something is wrong. They don't need to be in that position."
Following a firestorm – both from his townspeople and netizens – Smith changed his tune and issued a statement expressing regret to KDKA.
"I am embarrassed by this. I want to apologize. I was frustrated and angry at the Steelers not standing the anthem. This had nothing to do with my Fire Department. I regret what I said."
He added that, "My fire department should never have been dragged into this. It was a bad judgment by me, for which I am very embarrassed, for them and my township."
All members of the Pittsburg Steelers, except former vet and team lineman Alejandro Villanueva, took a decision to remain off-field while the anthem was being played.
On Monday, Villanueva said that he did not intend to make a political statement.
"Unfortunately I threw my teammates under the bus, unintentionally," he said. "Every single time I see that picture of me standing by myself I feel embarrassed."
Remaining in the locker room, according to Tomlin, was to silently and peacefully protest statements made by U.S. President Donald Trump as well as support the “take a knee” movement inadvertently started by still-unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The former San Francisco 49er, who elected to kneel – all of last season – while the anthem was being performed is yet to be drafted to any team, eliciting comments that he has been blackballed.
Several other teams opted to appear on their respective fields this week, but took a knee or locked arms to show solidarity.
Prior to the commencement of game week 3, Trump called on NFL owner to “fire the sons of bitches,” referring to a number of players “taking a knee” to highlight social and racial injustices being meted out to African Americans and other people of color across the country.