Vikings, NFL come to aid of former Boise State running back after vile, racist messages

Former Boise State running back Alexander Mattison woke up to hate-filled messages on Instagram following the Minnesota Vikings’ 34-28 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday.

Mattison said the 60-plus messages included calls for him to “kill himself” and racial slurs. He responded with a message of his own on an Instagram story posted earlier Friday.

“Y’all can come at me all you want about fantasy and ‘you suck’ blah blah blah,” Mattison wrote. “I really could care less. But this s--- is unacceptable.

“... Really reflect on (what) you say and how it could truly affect someone. Under my helmet, I am a human .. a father .. a son. This is sick. SMH.”

Mattison is the Vikings’ starting running back this season. Against the Eagles on Thursday, he rushed for 28 yards on eight carries and lost a first-quarter fumble. He was also targeted six times, catching three passes for 11 yards. The Vikings as a team lost four fumbles.

ESPN reported that Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell spoke with Mattison about the messages.

“I know this is not just an isolated incident just from last night for Alex and other professional athletes alike,” O’Connell told ESPN. “I just don’t see that there’s any place for it. Racism has no place regardless of how upset someone may be with fantasy football output or a player’s performance.

“It’s just unacceptable in any way, shape or form really in our society, but especially in regards to the treatment of professional athletes and our players. I’m fully behind Alex, and I know his teammates are as well.”

Both the Vikings and the NFL spoke out in Mattison’s defense.

“We are sickened by the hatred and racial slurs directed toward Alexander Mattison following last night’s game,” the Vikings said in a statement. “There simply is no room for racist words or actions in sports or society. The Vikings will continue to fight to eliminate hate, to educate and to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community that respects and values our unique backgrounds. We stand with Alexander and all players who, unfortunately, experience this type of ignorant and prejudicial behavior, and we ask our fans to continue to fight to eliminate racism.”

The NFL said it “strongly condemns” the “hateful behavior.”

“We stand firmly with Alexander and remind fans to remember the humanity of all players and celebrate their contributions to the game we all love,” the NFL wrote.

Mattison was drafted by the Vikings in the third round in 2019 after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Boise State, including 1,415 yards as a junior in 2018. He declared for the NFL Draft early and had been Dalvin Cook’s primary backup until this year.