University of Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, whose initials and uniform number are known as “AR-15,” says he intends to change his image in order to prepare for an upcoming season in which many expect him to be one of the best college football players in the nation.
An assault weapon used in mass shootings around the country is no longer something Richardson wants to be connected with, he tweeted on Sunday.
According to him on Twitter, “It is crucial to me to have no association whatsoever with the assault weapon that has been used in mass killings, which I do not support.” When he launched his own website, the message was the sole thing on the front page.
He said he was “transitioning” to using “AR” or “no moniker at all,” and that he was renaming himself.
T-shirts and tattoos with a telescopic reticle were available at Richardson’s www.shopar15apparel.com, but the site was marked as “no longer live” by a notice on Monday night.
“There’s a lot of things going on with AR-15s and shooting and whatnot, and a lot of people contacted me up just talking about it, asking me if I was supporting that stuff,” Mr. Richardson said in an interview with sports media organisation High Top Sports published Wednesday.
He said, “I don’t want people thinking I’m that sort of guy.”
Just this summer, we’ve witnessed other mass shootings, including the shooting deaths of 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and 10 Black people at Tops store in Buffalo, New York, both the victims of a racist assault by a shooter. Both assailants armed themselves with guns similar to the AR-15.
As of right now, a jury in Florida is debating whether or not to execute Nikolas Cruz, who admitted to the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that claimed the lives of 17 people and injured an additional 17. This man, too, utilised an AR-15-like weapon.
Richardson representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday night about why he had made the choice he had made.
Richardson is one of the favourites to win the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore, according to the betting markets. Last season, he ran 80 yards in the fourth quarter for a score against South Florida with an 80-yard burst past a safety because of his acrobatic ability and 6-foot-4, 232-pound body.
This past October, Richardson, a Gainesville native, starred in a video for the Gainesville Police Department advertising its gun buyback programme. At least one advertising film shows Richardson posing with a football in his hand as if it were an actual weapon.
Because of the N.C.A.A.’s decision in June of last year to enable college players to pursue endorsement agreements and find other possibilities to generate money from their names, photos and likenesses, he now has a brand and management team.
It was revealed in October that Outback Steakhouse and Richardson had signed a sponsorship agreement. An archive of the internet called the Wayback Machine shows that at the same time, Richardson put up an AR-15-themed website, according to the Wayback Machine’s records.
Richardson told Forbes in October of last year that being able to generate money was a “bonus” for the company.
As of January, Richardson’s website has begun pushing visitors to gun-themed clothing.
Recently, the Dallas Cowboys faced backlash on social media for their association with coffee manufacturer Black Rifle Coffee, whose merchandise has included gun-related titles and imagery.