CenturyLink has terminated its sponsorship deal with Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall after he protested during the national anthem in the team's season opener.
“We completely respect Brandon Marshall's personal decision and right to take an action to support something in which he strongly believes,” the company said in a statement. “America is anchored in the right of individuals to express their beliefs. While we acknowledge Brandon's right, we also believe that whatever issues we face, we also occassionally must stand together to show allegiance to our common bond as a nation. In our view, the national anthem is one of those moments. For this reason, while we wish Brandon the best this season, we are politely terminating our agreement with him.”
CentruryLink is the second company to drop its sponsorship of Marshall. Marshall kneeled as a sign of solidarity with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who chose not to stand for the national anthem before preseason games to protest police violence and what he sees as racial inequality in America.
Marshall and Kaepernick were teammates at the University of Nevada.
On Monday morning, a fan burned a Marshall t-shirt outside of the team's practice facility.
“It's an evil world,” Marshall said. “It's a hateful world. I'm not here to spread hate. I'm not here to respond to the hate. I'm here to spread love and positivity. I'm a likeable guy. I was once a fan favorite for a reason. It's cool, because people can call me the N-word or cuss or at me or say they wish I'd break my neck all they want. There's no backlash from me. Hate can't drive out hate. Only love can drive out hate.”