A Pittsburgh-area fire chief has apologized after using the “N-word” in a Facebook post to describe his frustrations with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and Tomlin’s decision to keep his team off the field during the national anthem on Sunday.
Paul Smith, who is the chief at Cecil Volunteer Fire Station #2, wrote that he has added Tomlin to the “list of no good N*****s. Yes I said it.”
Smith later apologized for his comments on Facebook, saying he was “frustrated and angry at the Steelers not standing the anthem” and regrets the comment, according to the Associated Press. He also told KDKA on Facebook that “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.”
The Cecil Township Board of Supervisor issued the following statement:
“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.”
Prior to Sunday’s game, Tomlin told reporters that his team would not be participating in the national anthem, not as a form of protest but in order to keep his team unified and to prevent them from having to pick sides.
While the majority of the Steelers remained deep in the tunnels of Soldier Field during the anthem, offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva stood at the edge of the field with his hand over his heart. Villanueva has since apologized for “throwing his team under the bus.”
The Steelers also issued a statement on Tuesday to clarify that their actions on Sunday were not meant to be a boycott of the anthem.
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Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.