Fire chief directs racial slur at Steelers coach over anthem protest

Last Updated Sep 26, 2017 6:34 PM EDT

UPDATE: Fire Chief Paul Smith has resigned from his volunteer position; read the full story here


PITTSBURGH --The fallout continues after the Pittsburgh Steelers game on Sunday and the team's decision to stay in the tunnel at Chicago's Soldier Field during the national anthem.

The fan reaction has been mixed from support for the players to outraged fury over their decision. But as CBS Pittsburgh reports, in one Washington County town, one fan's response may have crossed the line.

Paul Smith, the chief of Cecil Volunteer Fire Station #2, posted a derogatory response on Facebook, which directed a racial slur at Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin.

tomlin-racial-slur-post.jpg

Paul Smith posted a derogatory response on Facebook, which directed a racial slur at Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin.

CBS Pittsburgh

Reaction to Smith's post in Cecil Township was quick and negative.

Dylan Pareso, who lives across the street from the fire hall, said, "I'm completely upset, especially for a town like this, coming from the fire chief, that's disrespectful in my eyes. I don't agree with it one bit."

Mary Plumley told CBS Pittsburgh, "For a fire chief or for anybody like that to say something like that is wrong. They don't need to be in that position."

"It's not good. No, I don't like it at all," Janet Vickers said.

Wes Leopold reacted to Smith's post, saying, "It's kind of a dumb thing to do. I think, there's enough tension in this country. He's definitely adding to it."

Chief Smith is out of the country on vacation, but on Facebook, he responded to CBS Pittsburgh.

"I am embarrassed at this. 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. It was a bad judgement by me, for which I am very embarrassed, for them and my township."

CBS Pittsburgh reached out to the Cecil Township manager, but did not hear back from him.

Meanwhile, Steelers lineman Alejandro Villanueva said Monday the national anthem situation got out of control and he is taking the blame.

"Unfortunately I threw my teammates under the bus, unintentionally," Villanueva said. "Every single time I see that picture of me standing by myself I feel embarrassed."

Villanueva was the only Steelers player standing outside the tunnel for the national anthem before their game Sunday against the Chicago Bears.