CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- When the Broncos' Brandon Marshall took a knee during the national anthem Thursday night, he expected pushback. His Twitter timeline streamed with vitriol, and on Friday morning he lost his first endorsement.
The Air Academy Federal Credit Union announced they have terminated their relationship with the linebacker.
"Although we have enjoyed Brandon Marshall as our spokesperson over the past five months, Air Academy Federal Credit Union (AAFCU) has ended our partnership. AAFCU is a membership-based organization who has proudly served the military community for over 60 years. While we respect Brandon’s right of expression, his actions are not a representation of our organization and membership. We wish Brandon well on his future endeavors," wrote president Glen Strebe on Facebook.
Marshall decided not to stand as a sign of a solidarity with San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Marshall plans to donate to veterans' causes, he said. Marshall explained his decision, one he discussed before the game only with family and Virgil Green after praying for hours.
"The message is that I’m against social injustice. I’m not against the military, the police or America at all. I’m against social injustice and I feel like this was the right thing to do. This was the right platform. This is our only platform to really be heard. At times people want us to just shut up and entertain them, shut up and play football, but we have voices as well. We are actually educated individuals that went to college," Marshall said. "When we have an opinion and we speak it, I feel like a lot of people bash us for what we have to say.”
An anchor of the Broncos' defense, Marshall signed a four-year, $32-million deal in the offseason. The Broncos identified him as a core player. He left Thursday's game and returned after being cleared in the concussion protocol. He finished with six tackles in the Broncos' 21-20 season-opening win over Carolina.
Marshall recognized his actions would draw criticism, and plans to continue kneeling.
“If you don’t think about that, obviously it’s going to send the wrong message to some people. Some people are going to stand by me, some people won’t, but I know that my loved ones and the people that are going to support me and care about me, they’re going to stand behind me," Marshall said. "That’s all that matters to me now.”
Coach Gary Kubiak spoke with Marshall on Friday. The Broncos encourage players to stand for the national anthem, but don't demand it.
"We had a good talk this morning," Kubiak said. "Brandon has a right to his beliefs and I'm going to focus on the football."