Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin has finally addressed the controversy surrounding his Super Bowl jacket, explaining that he never intended to offend anyone and calling it simply “abstract art”.
The jacket featured a crucifix with an altered Jesus head, and was worn by Hamlin to the Chiefs vs. Eagles game at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
The day after the game, NFL veteran Adrian Peterson criticized the jacket, calling it “blasphemous and disrespectful”.
I’m absolutely disgusted by Damar Hamlin’s jacket choice at the Super Bowl.
This is not how you pay homage to God, especially after he saved your life. This is blatant mockery and I don’t like this not one bit . #superbowl2023 #SuperBowlSunday #SuperBowlLVII pic.twitter.com/asbGmZwNap
— Mr. Santucci (@HoodiePap14) February 13, 2023
However, a representative in Hamlin’s inner circle released a statement to TMZ Sports in which they accused Peterson of hypocrisy, given his own past controversies.
“Adrian Peterson has apologized several times to Damar and chose to keep his post up,” the statement read. “He knows the public controversy he caused but only chose to take his words back privately. Adrian has had controversial situations around his name and understands what it’s like to be an athlete with a huge platform, so the hypocrisy in this situation is disappointing.”
The statement went on to explain that Hamlin is a man of faith and that the criticism surrounding the jacket does not change that.
However, he will learn and work on understanding everyone’s views and beliefs, and “will continue to use his platform to spread positivity and give back.”
After talking with his parents, Hamlin took to his Twitter page on Wednesday to address the situation himself. “After talking with my parents I understand how my coat could have offended some people,” he wrote. “It was never my intention to hurt or disrespect anyone, the coat is abstract art to me. It says Eternal which I am Eternally thankful to my Savior!”
He went on to say that his beliefs and relationship with God are not tied to symbolic images, and promised to learn from the experience. “I will continue to walk in love as I always have,” he said.
The controversy surrounding the jacket has sparked a heated debate on social media, with many criticizing Hamlin for what they see as a disrespectful fashion choice. However, others have come to his defense, arguing that the jacket is a work of art and that he should be free to express himself in any way he chooses.
One Twitter user wrote, “That jacket is art, and it’s beautiful. If people can’t handle the sight of it, that’s their problem, not his. We need more artists and thinkers like Damar Hamlin in this world.”
Another user added, “I don’t see how this is any different from any other piece of art that’s ever been made. It’s a creative expression of his beliefs, and he should be free to express himself however he wants.”