On Wednesday, the two-time All Pro safety posted an apologetic reply to a Complex Sports’ tweet highlighting an interview with former Denver Broncos LB Brandon Marshall, who was the recipient of “serious threats, racial slurs, burned jerseys, and lost endorsements” for taking a knee in peaceful protest during the national anthem during the 2016 season.
“I’m sorry I didn’t stand taller with you,” the veteran safety wrote. “I’m sorry man!”
Mathieu has been among Kansas City’s vocal leaders in the ongoing fight for justice and equality, speaking out against Drew Brees’ comments on Wednesday and taking part in a powerful “Black Lives Matter” video on Thursday featuring some of the league’s biggest stars, including teammate Patrick Mahomes.
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Steven Nelson Takes Issue with Treatment of Ex-Teammate
In response to Mathieu’s apology, former Chiefs CB Steven Nelson, who enters his second season with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020, took the opportunity to criticize Kansas City for its treatment of another ex-cornerback, Marcus Peters.
During his sophomore season in 2016, Peters showed support for the protest started by former San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick by raising his fist against racial injustice while standing for the anthem. The following season, the Chiefs first-rounder began sitting on the bench during the pre-game anthem, later declining to give specific reasons for his actions.
Peters was traded away to the Los Angeles Rams the following offseason in exchange for a 2018 fourth-round pick and 2019 second-round pick (later resulting in the selection of S Juan Thornhill).
Nelson Praises Pittsburgh, Calls K.C. ‘Racist’ City
Nelson was drafted by the Chiefs in the third round (No. 98 overall) in the 2015 NFL Draft and racked up 182 total tackles, 35 pass breakups and 4 interceptions (all in 2018) during his four-year stint in K.C. The 27-year-old left for Pittsburgh on a three-year, $25.5 million free agent contract upon his rookie deal expiring in 2018.
In a follow-up exchange with a fan, the sixth-year cornerback confirmed that the Chiefs did make him an offer to return, but his dislike of the defensive system was one of the primary factors in his departure.
Nelson continued on, this time going as far as to call his previous playing city “racist” following another fan’s response to his reasoning.
Just one minute later, the Steelers starting corner pivoted to praising his new home city and front office — essentially subtweeting Kansas City in the process.
If Nelson’s message wasn’t yet clear at this point, Kansas City was not exactly his favorite place, later writing that he “never wanted to be there” to begin with.