A Pennsylvania man has resigned from his position as fire chief after posting a racial slur about Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on Facebook.
At a game on Sept. 24, the Steelers choose to stay in the tunnel during the national anthem before an NFL game at Chicago's Soldier Field, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Fan response to the decision has been mixed, with some praising and others criticizing the decision.
Among the harsh critics was Paul Smith, the chief of the Cecil Volunteer Fire Station #2 in Cecil Township, which is just outside of Pittsburgh.
"Tomlin just added himself to the list of no good N*****s," read Smith's comment, which was posted to Facebook. "Yes I said it."
Cecil Township Manager Don Gennuso said Smith's fire station is a separate legal entity from the township, meaning that the board of supervisors has limited influence over it. However, the board did release a statement following Smith's comment, according to KDKA.
"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," the statement read. "In that the volunteer fire departments are independent entities, the board suggests contacting the president of the Muse Fire Department regarding any further comment or action."
Gennuso said he has fielded 550 calls and 450 emails from people around the world since Smith posted the comment.
Smith, who was on vacation as of Sept. 26, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, also released a statement regarding what had occurred.
"The media dragged my fire company and township into this as well as my family," Smith wrote in the statement.
"I regret what I said deeply and I am not the racist the media portrays me as," he continued. "What I said was wrong and posted in anger."
Smith also reportedly responded to KDKA through Facebook.
"I am embarrassed at this," he said. "I want to apologize. I was frustrated and angry at the Steelers not standing the anthem. This had nothing to do with my Fire Department. I regret what I said."
"My fire department should have never been dragged into this," he elaborated. "It was a bad judgement by me, for which I am very embarrassed, for them and my township."
Cecil Township residents seemed disturbed by Smith's comment.
"I’m completely upset, especially for a town like this, coming from the fire chief, that’s disrespectful in my eyes," said Dylan Pareso, a resident who lives across the street from the fire station. "I don’t agree with it one bit."