The University of Florida needs to find a less dangerous name for its starting quarterback after their current signal caller, Anthony Richardson says he’ll no longer use a moniker synonymous with mass shootings across the country.
Richardson, a 21-year-old going into his third year with the Gators, is dropping “AR-15" as his handle, although the nickname was actually just his initials and the number on his jersey, not a direct reference to the assault rifle that’s become the weapon of choice among mass shooters.
AR-15 style rifles were used in the Uvalde, Texas, massacre at Robb Elementary School, the mass killing in Buffalo at a Tops supermarket, the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando in 2016, the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., in 2018 and the Highway 91 festival mass murder in 2017. That list is far from exhaustive.
Richardson took to Twitter to explain his decision:
“After discussions with my family and much thought, I have decided to no longer use the nickname ‘AR-15’ and the current apparel line logo, which features a scope reticle, as part of my branding,” he said.
“While a nickname is only a nickname and ‘AR-15’ was simply a representation of my initials combined with my jersey number, it is important to me that my name and brand are no longer associated with the assault rifle that has been used in mass shootings, which I do not condone in any way or form.”
Richardson is expected to start this upcoming season for the Gators after playing in 10 games over his first two seasons, posting a 59.1 completion percentage while throwing seven touchdowns and six interceptions.