EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Sheldon Richardson was stunned when he heard the news Saturday that two New York City police officers were killed in the line of duty.
The New York Jets defensive lineman who has been critical of law enforcement in the past spoke out Sunday in support of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. They were fatally ambushed in their squad car in Brooklyn by a gunman with a long criminal record.
"Some innocent blood was spilled," Richardson said after New York's 17-16 loss to New England. "I'm not with that at all. That's the message that I'm trying to get across. It's sad, real sad that two officers lost their lives and can't go home to their families. It's just tough, man."
Richardson, from the St. Louis area, had recently been critical of the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, which didn't indict officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown on Aug. 9. He wrote on Twitter after the jury's decision that "they let this pig get off."
Ramos and Liu were shot while sitting in their patrol car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. The gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, wrote on an Instagram account: "I'm putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let's take 2 of theirs," officials said.
"I don't know the guy, I don't know the perp," Richardson said. "I just heard that two officers lost their lives sitting in their car. I'm with the peaceful protests and stuff like that, defending your rights. ... That's not the way to go, murdering innocent cops."
Jets centre Nick Mangold wore a black NYPD cap while walking into MetLife Stadium off the team bus, and held it to his heart during the singing of the national anthem. The team also observed a 10-second moment of silence before the game.
Mangold, who left the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter, said in the locker room that it was "a shame" to hear the news.
"Every one of those guys that's out there, they risk their lives every day," Mangold said. "They go out there to keep the community safe and for that to happen to those two guys, their families, that's a raw deal. If wearing that (cap) gives them a little bit of comfort or shows support for those folks, I'm happy to do it."
Tight end Jeff Cumberland took to Twitter on Saturday after hearing about the shootings to offer his condolences.
"'Revenge' does nothing except cause more tension," he wrote. "Thoughts and prayers up for the families of the NYPD officers from today's shooting."
In St. Louis, Giants coach Tom Coughlin wore a black strip on the left shoulder and a peace sign under the "NY" logo on his pullover for the team's game against the Rams. A Giants spokesman said Coughlin made the personal decision to pay tribute to the fallen officers.
"Let's hope that the voice of reason can prevail," Coughlin said. "Violence never solves anything.
"I realize there are issues, but solve them with non-violent means."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL