Deion Decries Death Threats against CSU Player

CU football head coach Deion Sanders comes out of the locker room for the Rocky Mountain Showdown on Sept. 16, 2023 at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo.
CU football head coach Deion Sanders comes out of the locker room for the Rocky Mountain Showdown on Sept. 16, 2023 at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo.

Colorado coach Deion Sanders said Tuesday he is "saddened" by the death threats and harassment Colorado State defensive back Henry Blackburn received since a viscous hit on Buffaloes' two-way star Travis Hunter.

Hunter, hospitalized midway through the double-overtime win for Colorado, is likely out three weeks due to an injury sustained from the hit.

"Henry Blackburn is a good player and played a phenomenal game. He made a tremendous on Travis on the sideline," Sanders said Tuesday during his press conference. "You could call it dirty, you could call it he was just playing the game of football. But whatever it was, it does not constitute that he should be receiving death threats. This is still a young man trying to make it in life. A guy that's trying to live his dream and hopefully graduate with honors, with a degree, commend to excellence and go to the NFL. He does not deserve a death threat over a game. At the end of the day, this is a game. Someone must win, someone must lose. Everybody continues their life the next day. Very unfortunate."

Hunter took the hit from Blackburn during the first quarter while playing receiver. He remained down on the field while trainers attended to him. Blackburn received an unnecessary roughness penalty for the late hit on Hunter, who eventually returned to the game and made a tackle on defense in the second quarter before permanently leaving.

Hunter finished with two receptions for 21 yards on offense and assisted a tackle on defense before leaving the game. Blackburn finished with five total tackles and an interception.

"It's football at the end of the day," Hunter said of the hit on a live stream Monday. "Stuff like that is going to happen, so I just stay humble. He did what he was supposed to do. It's football. Something bad is going to happen on the field sooner or later. You've just gotta get up and fight again. That's what I try to do, get up and fight. Good thing the doctors stopped me, because if there were no doctors there, I would have still been out there playing. But I'm thankful for everybody that helped me."

Blackburn received harassment in the wake of his hit on Hunter. Colorado State athletic director Joe Parker said that the safety received death threats toward him and his family, and that Colorado State Police are investigating the comments made against him. Blackburn and his mother’s cell phone numbers surfaced on the Internet by the end of Saturday’s game, as did his campus address and his family’s home address.

"I'm saddened if there is any of our fans that's on the other side of those threats," Sanders continued Monday. "I would hope and pray not. But that kid was just playing the best of his ability and he made a mistake. I forgive him, CU, our team forgives him. Travis, he's forgiven him. Let's move on. But that kid does not deserve that."

Even without one of its top players on the field, Colorado rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime in an intense rivalry matchup with Colorado State. Buffaloes' quarterback Shedeur Sanders led the offense on a 98-yard scoring drive to tie the game with 36 seconds remaining in regulation. Colorado prevailed in double-overtime to complete its fourth-largest comeback since 2005.

The extent of Hunter's injury means Colorado will be without one of its top playmakers on both offense and defense with arguably its two most difficult games this season coming up on the schedule. The Buffaloes travel to No. 10 Oregon this Saturday before hosting No. 5 USC Sept. 30.

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"We're gonna do what we got to do to take care of him," Deion Sanders said in his postgame press conference. "So I know Travis is probably going to want to be out for two weeks, but his health is more important than this game."

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