COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) UPDATE 9/12: Prime Time Sports has canceled next weekend's autograph signing event with Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall following his decision to take a knee during the national anthem last week.
The sports store issued a statement Monday:
"Due to the overwhelming response we have received from our valued customers and the surrounding community, this event has been canceled. All tickets purchased will be fully refunded.”
ORIGINAL STORY A Colorado Springs sports store says it's found itself wedged in an uncomfortable spot after a controversial gesture by a Denver Broncos star last week.
Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall took a knee before Thursday's game during the national anthem. Reaction, as expected, has been mixed.
Caught in the middle is Prime Time Sports at Chapel Hills Mall, which had scheduled an autograph signing event with Marshall prior to last week's game.
"When Brandon Marshall joined a few other NFL players and their stand and deciding to kneel, we received backlash...people calling, commenting on the Facebook page wanting refunds, just because they don't agree with what he's doing," said store manager Erika Ochoa.
Some fans thought they were seeing fallout from Marshall's decision after noticing a sign at the mall touting marked down autograph prices. Susan Griswold brought the sign to 11 News' attention Sunday and asked of it was because of Marshall's decision to kneel.
Ochoa said not at all -- it was a special that had been running for two weeks and was supposed to end Saturday. But she acknowledged Marshall's decision had left the store unsure how to proceed.
"We have to be indifferent and we're in the middle of two sides. It's a really awkward position to be in. We totally understand both sides," Ochoa said.
Ochoa told 11 News reporter Alyssa Chin that there are concerns about safety.
"We were talking with mall security here about potentially getting an off-duty police officer, a few people, just to have here for security. We've had multiple comments on the Facebook page saying they hope altercations happen because [Marshall] needs to learn his lesson. ... We completely understand everybody has their opinion, but we don't want him to be in that situation or have our employees or customers in that uncomfortable dangerous situation."
Ochoa said if they were to cancel the event, there are legalities such as contracts and fees -- that it's not as simple as just deciding they no longer want to host the signing.
Prime Time Sports will be chatting with Marshall's agent Monday, and should have a better idea then. If the event does go on as scheduled, it'll be held this coming Saturday.
Marshall, for his part, has said his decision to kneel was not a statement against his country.
"I’m against social injustice. I'm not against the military, the police, or America at all. I feel like this was the right thing to do, I feel like this was the right platform," Marshall said after Thursday’s game.
If Marshall does appear at Chapel Hills Mall Saturday, Ochoa says it's not an endorsement of what he did.
"It's not our personal belief, it's not a stand we're taking. It's somebody that has done something that affects our business now," she told Chin.
11 News will be checking back in with the store on Monday and we’ll let you know what happens.