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Sanders, Norvell condemn death threats to Henry Blackburn

Colorado+State+University+defensive+back+Henry+Blackburn+%2811%29+has+been+the+target+of+many+death+threats+after+his+hit+against+Travis+Hunter+Sept.+16.
Collegian | River Kinnaird
Colorado State University defensive back Henry Blackburn (11) has been the target of many death threats after his hit against Travis Hunter Sept. 16.

On Saturday, Sept. 16, Colorado State’s safety Henry Blackburn was flagged for a late hit personal foul on Colorado cornerback and wide receiver Travis Hunter.

In his Monday press conference, Rams head football coach Jay Norvell revealed that Blackburn and his family had been receiving death threats and had their addresses and phone numbers leaked via social media.

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“I’m really concerned about some of the trends that are going on in college football right now and the reaction that people have to the players on the field,” Norvell said. 

While Norvell said they do not coach that kind of style of football, it still happens. Late hits occur in football, and Norvell said it wasn’t Blackburn’s intention to injure Hunter. Norvell said he hopes Hunter can heal and get back out on the field quickly. 

“I’m very concerned for our kids,” Norvell said. “These are 18-22 year old kids. They play college football. I know a lot of people get excited about that, but there’s really no place for that in athletics and sports, and I hope everybody’s healthy and that Travis gets healthy and gets back out there, but we certainly don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”

Now post-Rocky Mountain Showdown, both Hunter and Buffs head coach Deion Sanders have come forward and called for the death threats to stop.

“It’s football at the end of the day,” Hunter said via his show Twelve Talks on Bleacher Report. “Stuff like that happens.”

Sanders also called for the death threats to stop.

“Henry Blackburn is a good player who played a phenomenal game,” Sanders said in his Tuesday press conference. “He made a tremendous hit on Travis on the sideline. You could call it dirty; you could call it he was just playing the game of football. But whatever it was, it does not constitute that he should be receiving death threats.”

Since Blackburn’s hit, the national media and several celebrities and sport personalities have taken to social media to voice their opinions. Some of these players include Lebron James, J.J. Watt and Shannon Sharpe, who called for Blackburn to be thrown out during the game.

The game garnered a lot of national attention, totaling 9.3 million views, making it the fifth most-viewed game on record aired by ESPN.

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This large viewership attracted a lot of negative national attention toward Blackburn. There were a lot of people on X, formerly known as Twitter, and other social media platforms who called for violence against him and for the NCAA to take action.

ESPN reached out to CSU Director of Athletics Joe Parker.

“We’re very concerned about our player’s safety, as Henry and his family have continued to receive these threats,” Parker said. “Henry never intended to put anyone in harm’s way on the football field. It’s not what we teach or coach. We hope that the irrational vitriol directed at Henry stops immediately.”

Norvell also said that both the campus police and local authorities have been working together to ensure Blackburn’s safety.

While originally from above, it looked like Blackburn lined up the hit. However, from a separate angle, it looks like a bang-bang play. At least, that’s the way Norvell described the play in his press conference.

“I reviewed the play it’s a play that happens sometimes,” Norvell said. “When you throw a deep ball and you’ve got a guy playing middle safety, he’s got to react on the boundary, and he’s going full speed. It was a bang bang type of play, and the officials looked at it, and we looked at it. That’s certainly not something that we teach or coach. It happens in football sometimes.”

Despite a large push by Buffs fans and some of the Buffs media to suspend Blackburn, neither CSU nor the NCAA has suspended the safety.

Fellow Rams defensive back Chigozie Anusiem said in Monday’s press conference that he and the team will rally around Blackburn and make sure that he is OK.

“We just stay together,” Anusiem said. “Whatever he needs, he can call us, stay with us if he needs to.”

Since the events, Blackburn has made his X account private. The Rams will take on Middle Tennessee State Saturday Sept. 23 and will look to move forward with their season.

Reach Damon Cook at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @dwcook2001.

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About the Contributor
Damon Cook
Damon Cook, Sports Editor
Damon Cook is the 2023-24 sports editor for the The Collegian and has been at the paper since August 2022. He started doing coverage on volleyball and club sports before moving onto the women's basketball beat. He is in his third year and is completing his degree with a major in journalism and media communication and a minor in sports management. As The Collegian's sports editor, Cook reports on CSU sports and helps manage the sports desk and content throughout the week. After having a year to learn and improve, Cook will now get to be part of a new age under the sports desk. The desk moved on from all but one other person and will now enter into a new era. Damon started school as a construction management major looking to go in a completely different direction than journalism. After taking the year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, he quickly realized that construction wasn't for him. With sports and writing as passions, he finally decided to chase his dreams, with The Collegian helping him achieve that. He is most excited to bring the best and most in-depth sports coverage that The Collegian can provide.

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