Lightning's J.T. Brown says he got death threats after raising fist during anthem

Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown said in a statement posted to Twitter this week that he received racist comments and death threats after raising his fist in protest of social injustice during the national anthem before his team's game Saturday.

"My [mentions] on Twitter alone prove why this topic must be talked about," Brown said Sunday. "I have received racist remarks and death threats because they disagree with how I chose to raise awareness."

Brown, 27, became the first NHL player to demonstrate during the anthem when he raised his first before Tampa Bay's game against the Florida Panthers over the weekend. The decision to raise his fist, a tactic already utilized in the NFL by the Philadelphia Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins, came after he considered a kneeling protest -- the same one popularized by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and condemned by President Donald Trump -- as well as prayer and conversations with military personnel.

"This is not and has never been about disrespecting the military or disrespecting the flag," Brown said of players' anthem demonstrations. "It is about police brutality, racial injustice and inequality in this country ... I love my country, but that doesn't mean I cannot acknowledge that it is not perfect ... While making my decision (to protest), I prayed and asked for God to guide me, and I spoke with my family. I also talked to members of the military to have an empathetic conversation about the demonstrations during the national anthem."

The goal in raising his fist, Brown added in his statement, is to raise awareness of "the real issues."

"I know it may not sit well with everyone, but to truly make change in this world, we must be able to be pushed outside of our comfort zone. We can't just stick with the status quo. I want young minorities to see that what they may be going through is not being ignored by the hockey community."

The Lightning forward, who previously encouraged athletes not to "stick to sports" and has donated for the relocation of Confederate statues in the Tampa Bay area, also vowed to "continue to be active in the community." His comments came on the same day that NFL players resumed their own conversation about protests, with Vice President Mike Pence leaving an Indianapolis Colts game after dozens of players knelt during the pregame anthem only adding fuel to the debate over player protests during the the anthem. Eric Reid, a former teammate of Kaepernick who knelt at the game that Pence left, called the vice president's actions a a "PR stunt" and further proof of "systemic oppression." 

Our Latest Stories