The National Hockey League was bereft of national anthem player protests as a new season started with one exception: J.T. Brown of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Brown, the son of former N.C. State football star Ted Brown, raised his right fist in a silent protest Saturday as the anthem was played before the Lightning’s game against the Florida Panthers. Brown,standing on the bench with his teammates, was the first NHL player to protest.
J.T Brown, 27, told the Tampa Bay Times he received death threats on social media because of the protest, which he tweeted was done to raise awareness to police brutality, racial injustice and inequality.
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Brown, in the Twitter post, wrote:
“I love my country, but that doesn’t mean I cannot acknowledge that it is not perfect. In my life, I have been through more than my fair share of racism both on and off the ice. There comes a time when you cannot remain silent, hoping and wishing for a change. It takes much more.”
Brown, one of 30 African-American players in the NHL, said one “must be comfortable to be pushed outside of our comfort zone.”
Ted Brown, the ACC’s leading career rusher and a former Wolfpack All-American, later played in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings. J.T. Brown grew up in Minnesota playing hockey and was a teammate of Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk at Minnesota-Duluth, winning an NCAA championship in 2011.
Faulk said Monday that he had not talked with Brown or been in contact with his good friend since Saturday.
Brown told the Tampa Bay Times he wasn’t sure if he would continue to protest in future games.
“I’d like to say that maybe halfway through the year, or maybe next game, we’re having these different conversations and things change,” he told the Times.