While most of the Broncos were ecstatic to get out and “play some football” Tuesday, one player started the new season with a heavy heart.
My heart is heavy! Praying for all the families & friends who lost a loved one yesterday. Time to show the world how strong us Mancs are!— Menelik Watson (@MenelikWatson) May 23, 2017
Newly acquired offensive tackle Menelik Watson, born and raised in Manchester, England, came to practice knowing his hometown was in shock after being hit in what has now been deemed an ISIS terrorist attack.
Manchester-born Salman Abedi detonated a homemade bomb in the foyer of the Manchester Arena on Monday night, killing himself and 22 people, mostly children and teens, moments after American singer Ariana Grande finished performing.
The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility, and authorities have turned their attention to his Libyan homeland.
Watson called the attacker and ISIS “scumbag terrorists” to TMZ and said this attack is only “gonna make Manchester stronger.”
Watson, who was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2013 and signed to the Broncos this offseason, was “visibly shaken,” according to TMZ.
“This one hurts a lot,” he told TMZ but added that the city will “band together.”
Growing up in the northwestern England blue-collar town, Watson remembers the civil strife of the IRA bombings. He was young, but it made an impression.
"We're tough," he told denverbroncos.com. "Growing up in Manchester, you've got to be tough. It's one of those types of cities — I would say it's similar to Pittsburgh — very workmanlike.
"I remember growing up as a kid, and we had the IRA bombings. At the time, I was very young. I couldn't really comprehend the magnitude of the situation, but I just remember the city banding together. And about two, three years later, you don't remember because we moved past it."
Though he isn’t home to help comfort his city, Watson’s thoughts are there, and he knows the terrorists’ plan to strike fear won’t work in his tough town.
"Scumbags want to impose their will on people through terror, and it doesn't work. It never works,” he said, adding he has “no sympathy for them, none whatsoever. I hope none of them rest easy."
We stand with you, Menelik.