Fire chief apologizes for calling Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin ‘n-word’ on Facebook |
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Tony LaRussa
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin

Cecil’s fire chief has apologized for posting a racial slur on social media during Sunday’s Steelers game.

Chief Paul Smith, who leads Cecil’s Volunteer Fire Department No. 2 in Muse, Washington County, posted the comment in response to the Steelers’ decision to not take the field for the national anthem.

“Tomlin just added himself to the list of no good (n-words). Yes I said it,” Smith wrote in the post.

Coach Mike Tomlin said the plan for Sunday’s game against the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago was for the players to remain out of view from the crowd and television cameras when the anthem was played.

Tomlin said he wanted to protect players who wanted to kneel or sit during the anthem.

The only player visible during the anthem was Steelers’ left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who was lauded by fans for standing alone at the tunnel leading to the field while the anthem played.

Villanueva apologized Monday for being isolated from his teammates.

“Unfortunately, I threw them under the bus unintentionally,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva, a West Point graduate who served three tours in Afghanistan, said he stood outside the tunnel because he wanted to be able to see the American flag.

In a text to a reporter, Smith, who is out of the country on vacation, said he regrets posting the comment on Facebook.

“I am embarrassed at this,” he said. “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.”

Cecil’s board of supervisors said the comment was troublesome.

“The Cecil Township Board of Supervisors is deeply disturbed by the comments made by volunteer Chief Smith, and in no way, shape or form condone his comments,” officials said in a written statement.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-772-6368, [email protected] or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.

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