Quarterback Known As ‘AR-15’ Changes Nickname, Says Mass Shootings

Anthony Richardson, the University of Florida quarterback known as “AR-15” for his initials and uniform number, has announced that he is embracing a less violent image as he heads into a season in which he is expected to become one of the players is the best in college football.

Richardson, who also sells a clothing line, wrote on Twitter on Sunday that he no longer wanted to be associated with an assault weapon used in mass shootings that have horrified the nation.

“It is important to me that my name and brand are no longer associated with an assault rifle used in mass shootings, which I do not accept,” he wrote on Twitter. The message became the only content on the home page of his personal website.

He added that he “switched” to using “AR” or Anonymous.

Richardson’s other website, www.shopar15apparel.com, which sold T-shirts and timepieces with retail, carried a message Monday night saying it was “no longer active.”

In an interview published yesterday by sports media group High Top Sports, Mr Richardson decided to “talk to my team” – “you know, my management team,” he clarified – and added, “A lot of things are going on. about AR-15s and shootings and stuff, and a lot of people are just talking about it, hitting me up, asking me if I support those things.

He continued, “I don’t want people to think I’m that kind of person.”

This summer alone saw several mass shootings, including at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers, and at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, where a gunman killed 10 Black people in a racist attack. Both gunmen used AR-15 rifles.

In Florida, a jury is now considering whether to sentence Nikolas Cruz, who pleaded guilty to killing 17 people and wounding 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He also used a weapon similar to an AR-15.

Representatives for Mr. Richardson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night about whether anything in particular influenced his decision.

Oddsmakers see Richardson among the top odds to win the Heisman Trophy this season, when he will be a sophomore. With acrobatic skills and a 6-foot-4, 232-pound frame, he can make plays down the field electrifying, such as the 80-yarder against South Florida last season in which he ran through a safety.

Richardson, who is from Gainesville, home of the University of Florida Gators, appeared last October in a video for the Gainesville Police Department promoting a gun buyback program. But in addition to promoting gun-themed merchandise, Richardson also appeared in at least one promotional video posing in which he aims a football like a gun.

The fact that he has a brand and management team is entirely a function of the NCAA’s decision in June of last year that allows college athletes to enter into endorsement contracts and find other opportunities to earn money from their names, their images, see like them

In October, Outback Steakhouse announced a sponsorship deal with Richardson. At the same time, Richardson posted a website that highlights the download page for his AR-15 background, according to the Wayback Machine, a website that hosts an internet archive.

“It’s a blessing for us to be able to make money,” Richardson told Forbes last October. “It teaches us how to manage money and understand the business side of things. It also allows us to help our families in ways we couldn’t before.”

Richardson’s website began directing visitors to gun-themed apparel around January.

Earlier this month, the Dallas Cowboys drew criticism on social media when they announced a partnership with Black Rifle Coffee, a coffee company whose merchandise features the names and images of guns and gun gear.

Sheelagh McNeill researched.

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