The fallout from Jackson State’s Celebration Bowl loss has taken a concerning turn after the mother of sophomore tight end Hayden Hagler said she and her son received death threats.
Hagler has been a topic of conversation on social media after he, unfortunately, dropped a what would have been a touchdown pass to tie the game in overtime. North Carolina Central would go on and win the game 41-34.
In a Facebook post by Pastor E. Dewey Smith of the House of Hope in Georgia, he shared text messages from Hagler’s mother detailing that and she family received threatening messages from anonymous sources.
Hagler’s mother explained that the situation was so bad that she and Hagler’s girlfriend, who were watching the game at Mercedes Benz Stadium “had to hide in the bathroom till the stadium was empty.”
She also mentioned insight into the struggles their family has faced in the past losing three sons due to depression. She says that Tigers tight end “prayed for that play so he could make them proud but it backfired.”
In a postgame video, former Jackson State coach Deion Sanders was seen consoling Hagler in the locker room telling him, “that ain’t on you that’s on us. We lost together do you understand that? I need you to fight through this adversity. This is going to prepare you for life…that moment is going to make you be one for the rest of your life.”
Smith, who was at the Celebration Bowl, also shared a photo of himself attempting to console and praying with Hagler after the game.
“Yesterday I thought I was going to the ‘Celebration Bowl’ to support my brother, Coach Deion Sanders & Jackson State University Football,” said Smith in a Facebook post. After the game I realized why I was there… for THIS moment! After Hayden dropped a TD pass, he was LITERALLY inconsolable for HOURS! God had me there yesterday to MINISTER to this young man’s pain & pray for him!!”
He ended by giving a call to action saying, “FAMILY, likewise, we should NEVER let ONE situation destroy our lives & futures!! It’s bigger than ONE moment!! Hold your head up & move on to the next play!!!”
Editor’s note: This story contains mentions of suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 800-273-8255.