Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison is opening up about the dozens and dozens of “unacceptable” messages he received after a recent NFL game, many containing racist and violent language. ‘blah blah blah,’ Mattison, 25, wrote in an Instagram post after his team’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. “I really could care less. But this s— is unacceptable. … Really think about what you said and how it might affect someone. Under the helmet I am a man.. a father.. a son. This is sick.”
The Vikings star shared two screenshots of the messages he received after the game. The screenshots, which have now been deleted, included racial slurs and told Mattison to take his own life, according to CNN.
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A number of NFL players have expressed their support for Mattison and said they receive similarly derogatory messages every week. The NFL and the Vikings also released statements of support for Mattison. “We are sick of the hate and racial slurs directed at Alexander Mattison after last night’s game,” Vikings it is stated in their press release. “There is simply no place for racist words or actions in sport or society.”
The NFL said it “will stand firmly with Alexander and remind fans to remember the humanity of all players and celebrate their contributions to the game we all love.”
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On Sunday, Mattison released a lengthy statement opening up about the experience of speaking out against the messages he and other players say they often receive. “We are real men under the helmet — men, sons, husbands and brothers,” Mattison said. “We should not be dehumanized, nor should our identities or ethnicity be attacked because of our performance on the field. No athlete deserves to be harassed, disrespected and threatened.”
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.Mattison vowed to continue advocating for players’ mental health and “emotional safety” going forward.
“I will continue to spread love and positivity and light up the world as much as I can,” Mattison said. “Social media has given us great access and proximity to our fans – but it has also opened up a space for bullying and harassment, which cannot be tolerated.”