Even though New York Jets center Nick Mangold wore a walking boot on his left foot following an injury and yet another tough loss for his team, he walked out of MetLife Stadium a winner.
Mangold, who suffered an ankle injury in a 17-16 loss to the New England Patriots, decided to pay tribute to the two New York City Police Department officers who were killed on Saturday afternoon in an execution-style shooting.
During the walk into the stadium as part of the Jets’ pregame rituals (the players get dropped off on buses and then walk through the crowd into the stadium), Mangold wore an “NYPD” baseball cap. His support for the police department set off a flood of positive messages on social media.
It was a simple gesture that got rolling on Saturday night when, after he read the story about the two officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, he reached out to a friend with law enforcement ties to get a hat. He got it on Sunday morning and wore it to the game. There was also a moment of silence for the officers before kickoff.
— Kristian Dyer (@KristianRDyer) December 21, 2014
In recent weeks, players throughout the league have been criticized for sending messages aimed at law enforcement, including the St. Louis Rams players running onto the field with arms raised to protest the shooting death of Michael Brown. Mangold said he wasn’t concerned about any backlash against his statement.
“It didn’t cross my mind. Even if there was a backlash, those families deserve the support,” Mangold told Yahoo Sports after the game. “I would have been happy to take it. I just wanted to do something to support them.”
Mangold has been politically active in the past, even campaigning for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the 2012 election. He said he had an overwhelming desire to support the families of the victims in a small way.
“I wasn’t angry, just saddened. The fact that those guys sitting in their car didn’t know it was coming, it was tough,” Mangold said. “Thinking of their wives, their kids – it must be tough. I’m just sad for them, sad for their families. I wanted to do something for them.”
Mangold said he is contemplating putting the hat up for auction to raise money for the families of the two officers.