Quarterback Known As ‘AR-15’ Is Changing Nickname After Mass Shootings

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

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

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

He added that he is “switching” to “AR” or not using the nickname at all.

Richardson’s other site, www.shopar15apparel.com, which sold T-shirts and temporary tattoos, issued a notice Monday night saying it was “no longer active.”

In an interview published yesterday by the sports media group High Top Sports, Mr. Richardson attributed the decision to “talking to my team” — “you know, my management team,” he explained — adding: “There’s a lot going on. With AR-15s and shooting and stuff. about the issues, and a lot of people beat me up just by talking about it and asking me if I supported those things.

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

There have been several mass shootings this summer alone, including at Roby 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 deliberating whether to impose the death penalty on Nikolas Cruz, who has pleaded guilty to killing 17 people and wounding 17 more 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 on whether there was anything specific about his decision.

Oddsmakers consider Richardson among the top prospects to win the Heisman Trophy this season as a sophomore. With acrobatic skills and a 6-foot-4, 232-pound frame, he can electrify plays down the field, such as last season’s 80-yard touchdown against South Florida in which he barreled past 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 has also appeared in at least one promotional video in which he strikes a pose in which he aims a football like a gun.

The fact that it has a brand and a management team at all is largely a function of the NCAA’s decision last June to allow college athletes to enter into endorsement deals and other opportunities to monetize their names, their images and their likenesses.

In October, Outback Steakhouse announced a sponsorship deal with Richardson. Around the same time, Richardson launched a website whose landing page highlighted his AR-15 nickname, according to the Wayback Machine, a website that hosts the Internet Archive.

“It’s a blessing for us to make money,” Richardson told Forbes last October. “He teaches us how to manage money and understand business aspects. It also allows us to support our families in a way we couldn’t before.”

Richardson’s site began directing visitors to gun-themed clothing in 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 paraphernalia.

Sheila McNeil contributed to the research.

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