A Cecil, Pa., fire chief has resigned for calling Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin a "no good n-----" in a Facebook post following the team's decision to sit out the national anthem on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports.
"Tomlin just added himself to the list of no good N------. Yes I said it," Paul Smith, chief of Cecil Volunteer Fire Station #2, wrote in a Facebook post that was originally reported by WPXI.
Following Smith's comments, the Cecil Township Board of Supervisors issued a statement saying they were “deeply disturbed.”
Smith told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that "the media dragged my fire company and township into this as well as my family." He added: “I regret what I said deeply and I am not the racist the media portrays me as. What I said was wrong and posted in anger."
Smith originally apologized when contacted by the TV station.
"I am embarrassed at this," he told WPXI. "I want to apologize. I was frustrated and angry at the Steelers not standing for the anthem. ... This had nothing to do with my fire department. I regret what I said."
The Steelers boycotted the national anthem, choosing to sit inside the locker room, with offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva being the lone one to appear. But Villanueva said Monday that he never intended to stand alone and he ended up there by accident.
Quarterback Ben Rosethlisberger released a statement on his website, saying he wished the team approached the situation differently and that the anthem is not a time for protest.
The Steelers joined a throng of teams and players protesting this weekend after President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who protest Friday. Trump said owners should "fire" NFL players who protest the anthem and referred to them as "son of a b----." More than 200 individuals protested and two other full teams boycotted the anthem.
Colin Kaepernick, currently a free agent, protested police brutality and racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem last season, but this weekend's protests were the largest mass demonstration so far.