Running back Alexander Mattison was subject to racist messages from fans after his performance in the Minnesota Vikings' 34-28 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night.
He ran for 28 yards on nine carries and lost a fumble in the game. Friday morning, he took to Instagram to share two screenshots of abusive messages that included racial slurs. One of those direct messages told him to kill himself, and he claims he received many more.
"Y’all can come at me all you want about fantasy [football], ‘You suck,’ blah blah blah. I really could care less. But this s*** is unacceptable," Mattison wrote in his caption for the screenshots. "I hope the 60+ people who decided to come at me with disgustingly disrespectful messages tonight in DM’s and comments, really reflect on wtf you say and how it could truly affect someone."
The 25-year-old reminded fans that he and his family are regular people with feelings, too. His father, Darrell Mattison, is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Mattison told the Vikings.com in a 2021 interview. Pearl Mattison, his mother, moved from California to Minnesota as he adjusted to life in the league, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. He and his wife, Drea Mattison, welcomed a daughter last September.
"Under my helmet, I am a human, a father, a son. This is sick," he wrote on Instagram Friday.
The NFLPA condemned the messages shortly after Mattison shared them, offering support to other players who may want to filter their social media in the face of similar abuse:
We’re not going to share the images of the disgusting behavior and messages that @AlexMattison22 was subject to last night, but we will call out and stand against this type of hate.
Any players who’d like info on filtering their inboxes, please head to our IG or send us a DM.
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) September 15, 2023
Later Friday morning, the Vikings issued a statement in support of Mattison. He is in his fifth season with the team after being a third-round pick out of Boise State in 2019. He notched a career-high five rushing touchdowns last year.
"There simply is no room for racist words or actions in sports or society," the team's statement said, in part.
We are sickened by the hatred and racial slurs directed toward Alexander Mattison following last night's game. pic.twitter.com/cdCRbxipr6
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) September 15, 2023
The University of Alabama released a similar statement on Tuesday after a 34-24 loss to Texas, during which fans near the sideline at Bryant-Denny Stadium hurled homophobic slurs and racist language at the visiting players.