America’s addiction to gun violence caused Florida QB Anthony Richardson to drop his ‘AR-15’ nickname

America’s addiction to gun violence caused Florida QB Anthony Richardson to drop his ‘AR-15’ nickname

Anthony Richardson

Anthony Richardson
Photo: Getty Images

Certain types of quarterbacks used to be referred to as “gunslingers.” That moniker isn’t cool anymore.

To date, there have been at least 330 mass shootings in the United States this year. Last year, there were 692. We’re right on target. No pun was intended in that last line, but the fact that the pun even exists points to how ridiculous, irresponsible, and dangerous things have gotten.

Down in Tallahassee, a football player is at least trying to do his part, despite living in a state run by Ron DeSantis. University of Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, who sports the No. 15 on the back of his jersey, recently announced that he’s dropping the nickname “AR-15” and the current apparel line logo, as he’s transitioning to “AR.” According to the Gun Violence Archive, AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles or similar guns have been used in at least six mass shootings this year in which four or more people have been killed.

At the age of 21, Richardson is mature enough to recognize the world he lives in, especially in the era of NIL, as this could hurt his brand and potential revenue streams. I mentioned his age because 21 is when society deems you “mature.” It’s when you’re allowed to drink because you’re a “responsible adult” at that point. And despite that usually not being the case, Richardson’s decision shows wisdom beyond his years, despite the monetary motivation.

Nicknames have always and will always be a part of sports. It’s why the term gunslinger was used to describe guys like Brett Favre, as they’re playing style was electric, erratic and entertaining in the same way that we glorify gunfighters of the old west. In the NBA, Andrei “AK-47” Kirilenko’s initials and number, not to mention his home country of Russia, where the AK-47 was first manufactured, made his moniker an effortless choice. And in college football, when Cardale Jones burst on the scene in 2015 as a third-string quarterback that took Ohio State to their first, and only, College Football Playoff National Championship with his long throws sporting the No. 12, the nickname of “12-gauge” was a perfect fit.

But that was then, and this is now. And now, players like Richardson realize that just because your name, initials, abilities, and jersey number can create a catchy and lucrative nickname that will make you a fan favorite, it might not be worth it, no matter the financial benefit.

“After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Charleston, after Orlando, after Las Vegas, after Parkland, nothing has been done,” President Biden said last month about gun violence. “This time, that can’t be true. This time, we must actually do something. The issue we face is one of conscience and common sense.” Last week, the President welcomed survivors and family members that have been affected by mass shootings to the White House and was interrupted by a protester who was demanding stronger efforts.

“Today is many things,” said Biden. “It is proof that, despite the naysayers, we can make meaningful progress on gun violence.”

Ironically enough, as the president made his remarks at the White House it was a reminder that Washington D.C. was once at the center of another nickname change in sports that had to do with gun violence.

“My friend was shot in the back by bullets. The name ‘Bullets’ is no longer appropriate for a sports team,” said former Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin in 1995 after Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated at a Tel Aviv peace rally. At the time, D.C. was one of the most dangerous cities in the country, as Pollin felt that “Bullets” wasn’t the best name for a team that played in a city in which so many people were being shot and killed.

“In the old days, our motto was ‘Faster than a speeding Bullet.’ That’s how we were envisioned in Baltimore. Today the connotation is a little different,” Pollin told the Washington Post in 1995. “It’s connected with so many horrible things that people do with guns and bullets. I don’t know. We’re considering it. We’ll make a decision this summer.”

Almost 30 years later, Richardson is dealing with the same things and living in the same world that Pollin used to. And despite how it may take a while for people to let go of a nickname or moniker that they’ve grown accustomed to, it’ll eventually go away. So, as Anthony Richardson switches from “AR-15” to “AR,” I guess the only thing left is to settle gun control. But sadly, that’s the violent and deadly part of this equation that refuses to evolve and change. And with the way things are going, who knows if it ever will. 

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.