BRUNSWICK, Ohio– Friday night was the first home game since controversy plagued the Brunswick High School football team. An African-American player says he received racial threats after a protest during the national anthem.
There were few obvious signs of the controversy during the game.
The Brunswick Marching Blue Devils performed the National Anthem in front of a packed house Friday night before their football team took on the Solon Comets.
Two weeks ago, Brunswick player Rodney Axson, Jr. took a knee during the anthem at an away game. He says he did it to protest some of his teammates using racial slurs to refer to members of the opposing team.
“I heard two of my teammates say they feel they need to call Austintown Fitch a bunch of n-words every chance they get every other play,” said player Rodney Axson, Jr. during a news conference on Monday.
Since taking the stance, Rodney says he has received threats, and a note with hateful words written on it.
“He lost a lot of friends and also gained a lot of friends that he didn’t have as friends through this,” said his father, Rodney Axson, Sr.
Rodney’s father says his son continues to receive threats even after the incident became public earlier this week.
“I really can’t say it’s a teammate; I can’t say it’s someone in the school, you know, but it’s messages that he’s receiving through a fake Facebook page or a fake Instagram page,” said Axson, Sr.
Rodney Senior says he worries about his son as he takes the field.
“He’s feeling very uncomfortable, very uncomfortable, but my son right now, his will is just so strong that he can’t be broken,” he said.
Brunswick’s superintendent sent a message to parents saying “racial slurs and hate speech have no place in the Brunswick schools. We have brought in a nationally known expert in diversity matters to help us. We are dealing with our students who we believe practiced inappropriate and racially motivated conduct.”
“It’s really a problem. There is no way we can sweep this under the rug because it’s a problem; it’s a serious problem,” said Axson, Sr.
The football team was not on the field for the national anthem. But the superintendent says for years, the team has remained in the locker room for home games.