The Las Vegas Raiders were sacked on Twitter after turning George Floyd’s final words into a controversial tweet celebrating former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict on murder and manslaughter charges Tuesday.
“I can breathe,” the NFL team tweeted, referencing Floyd, who said “I can’t breathe” 20 times as he was pinned to the ground by Chauvin’s knee for over nine minutes during an arrest last May.
“smh delete this,” two-time Super Bowl champion Torrey Smith tweeted in response to the tweet that was posted shortly after Chauvin, who is 45 and white, was convicted Tuesday for his role in the death of the Floyd, a 46-year-old black man.
Instead of scrubbing the tweet, the Raiders made it more visible by pinning it to the top of the account.
Raiders owner Mark Davis defended the tweet, saying the wording came from Floyd’s brother Philonise, who after the verdict said, “Today, we are able to breathe again,” reported Tashan Reed, the Raiders beat writer for The Athletic.
“If I offended the family, then I’m deeply, deeply disappointed,” Davis said, according to The Athletic’s report.
Many professional sports teams and leagues issued statements in support of Tuesday’s verdict, as they have been called on by players to take on a more active role in social justice causes.
The NFL has faced scrutiny for its handling of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of social injustice and police brutality in 2016.
“That this tweet was tweeted is hard to believe,” said sports media personality Darren Rovell. “That it has remained up for more than an hour is harder to believe.”
Quipped former NFL linebacker and Giant Emmanuel Acho, “I keep double checking to see if the @Raiders verified account actually tweeted this.”
The Raiders’ tweet as of Tuesday night had over 60,000 comments.