Pittsburgh-area fire chief 'regrets' calling Mike Tomlin racial slur on Facebook

The Steelers decided not to take the field during the national anthem on Sunday, instead remaining in the tunnel as a sign of solidarity, according to Mike Tomlin. A fire chief for Cecil Township Volunteer Fire Station #2 responded to that decision in disgustingly bad taste, calling Tomlin a racial slur on a Facebook post.

Paul Smith, the fire chief for the Washington County volunteer station, allegedly called Tomlin a "no-good [n word]" on a Facebook post following Tomlin's announcement that the Steelers would not stand on the field. 

Smith later issued a statement, acknowledging he made the remarks and said he is "embarrassed" by what he wrote. 

"I am embarrassed at this. I want to apologize. I was frustrated and angry at the Steelers not standing the anthem," Smith told KDKA via Facebook. "This had nothing to do with my Fire Department. I regret what I said."

"My fire department should have never been dragged into this. It was a bad judgement by me, for which I am very embarrassed, for them and my township."

Sadly, Smith does not even understand what was happening in the Steelers situation, although he did identify himself as a racist in the process. 

Tomlin told CBS Sports Jamie Erdhal before the game in Chicago that the team would remain in the tunnel to avoid a situation where they appeared fractured by their stances on the anthem protests. The goal for the Steelers and Tomlin was to be "all in" on one decision together and to avoid disrupting the locker room. The Steelers were not making a statement, they were attempting to avoid making a statement. 

Lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, actually left the team and went out of the tunnel and onto the field.. The team was surprised by how the Villanueva situation played out. Ben Roethlisberger later would say he regrets the way things were handled.

According to KDKA, the Cecil Township Board of Supervisors issued a statement saying it was "deeply disturbed."

"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."

KDKA spoke with a number of different citizens of the township, most of whom expressed disdain for the fire chief's behavior. The protests and demonstrations at the NFL games this weekend began after President Donald Trump said at an Alabama rally on Friday that NFL teams should fire players who decide not to stand for the anthem. 

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now," Trump said to a cheering crowd. "Out. He's fired. He's fired."

Virtually every NFL team issued a statement or participated in some kind of demonstration beginning on Sunday morning when Jaguars owner Shad Khan was seen linking arms with his players and lasting through Monday night, when Jerry Jones and the Cowboys linked arms before the anthem was played.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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