Colorado State Security Officer Henry Blackburn reportedly received death threats that university police and local authorities investigated following his hit on University of Colorado star Travis Hunter during their game on Saturday, Rams athletic director Joe Parker told ESPN.
Blackburn was called for an illegal hit on Hunter in the first half of Colorado State’s overtime loss to the Buffaloes, which caused an undisclosed injury to the two-way star. Although the referees threw a flag for unnecessary roughness, Blackburn was not ejected from the match.
The hit was widely criticized as a dirty play, and threats against Blackburn started coming before the game was even over, Parker said.
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Blackburn’s cell phone number, along with his mother’s, was leaked online, leading to numerous calls and text messages. His campus address and his family’s home address were also released.
“We are very concerned for the safety of our players as Henry and his family continue to receive these threats,” Parker said. “Henry never intended to put anyone in danger on the football field. That is not what we teach or coach. We hope the irrational vitriol directed at Henry stops immediately.”
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Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell added in a news conference Monday: “It’s just sad. It’s sad that this is the state of the world that we live in. “It’s a football game. Let’s not make it any more than that. We don’t want anyone to get hurt. We don’t coach that kind of football.”
Norvell considered Blackburn’s success a “bang-bang game”. Video replay posted online showed Hunter take a few steps after the ball hit the turf before Blackburn drove his shoulder into his chest.
“It’s a play that happens sometimes,” Norvell said. “It’s definitely not something we teach or coach. It happens sometimes in football.”
Hunter was taken to a Boulder hospital. Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders said he will be out for several weeks after his injury is evaluated. Some reports indicate that Hunter is suffering from a lacerated liver, although this has not been confirmed by the team.
The Buffaloes managed to overcome a second-half deficit with one of their stars out of the game as Shedeur Sanders led a comeback that required two overtime periods to settle for a 43-35 victory. Sanders finished with 348 passing yards with four touchdowns and one interception.
Hunter had two receptions for 21 yards while making one tackle on defense before his injury.
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The Buffaloes have some tough opponents on their upcoming schedule, which includes No. 10 Oregon on the road this Saturday, followed by No. 5 USC, which Colorado will host on September 30.