Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons apologized on Twitter for his tweets related to the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, announced by President Joe Biden Thursday morning.
Griner was released after nearly ten months in Russian detention in a prisoner exchange for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Notably left out of the deal was another U.S. citizen, former Marine Paul Whelan, who was sentenced to 16 years in a Russian prison in 2018 for espionage charges.
Whelan’s absence from the deal was not lost on the Cowboys’ star linebacker.
“Wait nah!! We left a marine?!! Hell nah,” Parsons posted to his Twitter account, a post that now has over 40,000 retweets and 260,000 likes.
President Biden announced Griner’s release early Thursday morning, posting a picture on Twitter with Griner’s wife, Cherelle, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner,” the president’s tweet read. “She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home.”
In a tweet in response to Biden’s post, Parsons wrote, “We still not voting for you.”
After Parsons’ response to Biden went viral, garnering thousands of retweets and becoming a trending topic, he deleted the tweet.
He then posted an explanation for his tweet, clarifying that it “was no shot at Brittney Griner.”
“I’m super happy she’s back home as she should be,” Parsons wrote. “I just have family who have served, and it’s crazy to me the President wouldn’t bring him home too. I’m the furthest thing from a Trump supporter but I’m not a fan of Biden either.”
Just after 9 a.m. Thursday, Parsons issued a more extended explanation and apologized for tweeting “out of emotion.”
“Just spoke to some people that I respect and trust. I should have been more educated on the topic and not tweeted out of emotion for my family and other[s] who have served. For that I apologize,” wrote Parsons.
“Also if what I’m told about the attempts to bring Ret [sic] Marine Paul Whelan home are true then the best outcome was accomplished,” Parsons said. “I pray Mr. Whelan comes home but am extremely happy for Brittney and her family. I am not too prideful to admit when I’ve made a mistake.”
In Biden’s announcement of Griner’s release on Thursday, he said the United States was unable to negotiate a trade that included Whelan’s release.
“We’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan, who’s been unjustly detained in Russia for years,” the president said in an address after news of Griner’s release broke. “This was not a choice of which American to bring home. … Sadly, for illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s.”
David Whelan, Paul’s brother, said his family was notified of Griner’s release before the news went public and felt that the Biden administration “made the right decision” in agreeing to a prisoner exchange for Griner. Still, he said they are “devastated” that Paul Whelan remains in Russia.
“There is no greater success than for a wrongful detainee to be freed and for them to go home,” a statement from the Whelan family reads. “The Biden Administration made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to happen.”
Griner’s coach at Baylor University, Kim Mulkey, also expressed her gratitude for the release of the star player who led the Bears to an undefeated national championship-winning season in 2012.
“God is good. Prayers are powerful. Brittney is on her way home where she belongs,” Mulkey told ESPN. “Our prayers remain with her and her family as they recover and heal together.”
Dallas mayor Eric Johnson also tweeted positively.
“I am grateful that our fellow Texan, Brittney Griner, has finally been released back to the United States,” the mayor wrote. “Dallas sends our best wishes to Brittney and her family as they await her return.”