The Colorado State University Police Department and local authorities have looked into threats — including death threats — against Colorado State defensive back Henry Blackburn and his family, athletic director Joe Parker told ESPN on Monday.
Blackburn, a senior from Boulder, delivered an illegal hit on Colorado receiver/corner Travis Hunter in the first half of Saturday’s game that left the two-way star with an undisclosed injury.
The threats against Blackburn and his family began before Colorado’s double-overtime victory ended, as cellphone numbers for Blackburn and for his mother were published on the internet. Blackburn’s campus address and his family’s home address also got published, Parker told ESPN.
Parker said university and local police have worked in concert to investigate the threats against Blackburn and his family after they were inundated with threatening phone calls and text messages and were targets of threatening social media posts.
“We’re very concerned about our player’s safety, as Henry and his family have continued to receive these threats,” Parker told ESPN. “Henry never intended to put anyone in harm’s way on the football field. It’s not what we teach or coach. We hope that the irrational vitriol directed at Henry stops immediately.”
Blackburn’s late hit on Hunter went viral on social media Saturday night and became a major talking point. Hunter, one of the breakout stars of the 2023 season, briefly returned to the game after the hit.
He then got evaluated at a local hospital, and coach Deion Sanders said after the game that Hunter would be out for multiple weeks.
Colorado plays at No. 10 Oregon on Saturday, then hosts No. 5 USC on Sept. 30.
“It’s just sad,” Colorado State coach Jay Norvell said Monday of the threats at his weekly news conference. “It’s sad that that’s the state of the world we live in. It’s a football game. Let’s not make it more than that. We don’t want anybody to get hurt. We don’t coach that kind of football.”
Norvell said he reviewed Blackburn’s hit on Hunter and described it as a “bang-bang play.”
“I reviewed the play,” Norvell said Monday. “It’s a play that happens sometimes. That’s certainly not something that we teach or coach. It happens in football sometimes.”